Havana, Cuba. October 2017 (22 photos)

This is part 12 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

El Malecón (officially Avenida de Maceo) is a broad esplanade, roadway and seawall which stretches for 8 km along the coast in Havana from the mouth of Havana Harbour in Old Havana, along the north side of the Centro Habana neighborhood, ending in the Vedado neighbourhood.

It’s one of the best known features of Havana. A favourite place for locals and tourists alike. Let’s take a cruise along it.

Construction of the Malecón began in 1901, during the temporary U.S. military rule in Cuba.

The main purpose of building the Malecón was to protect Havana from the water and the so-called Nortes, extreme ocean waves in the Gulf of Mexico caused by tropical cyclones and anticyclone systems.

Many of the buildings along the Malecón in the “old Havana” area are weathered and in ruins, after years of weather damage and neglect. Yet as you see from the hanging laundry, people still live in them.

Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro in the background, at the mouth of Havana Harbour.

In the distance is the western reach of the Malecón, the area referred to as “modern Havana”. That’s Habana Libre* on the left. To the right you can see parkland in front of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba**. And behind the Nacional is Edificio FOCSA***.

* Habana Libre was originally a Hilton Hotel, built during the latter years of President Batista’s rule. Upon the victory of the Revolution, Fidel Castro took over the building, renamed as Habana Libre as his headquarters for a few months, before being returned to its original use as a hotel, although now State property.

**Hotel Nacional de Cuba opened in 1930. During the latter years of President Batista’s rule, the hotel came into the part ownership of Meyer Lansky, “the Mob’s Accountant”. In December 1946 the hotel hosted the Havana Conference, an infamous mob summit run by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and attended by Santo Trafficante, Jr., Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese and many others. Francis Ford Coppola dramatised the conference in his film The Godfather Part II.

***The FOCSA Building is, at 121 metres high, the tallest building in Cuba. It is considered one of the wonders of Cuban civil engineering since at completion in 1956 it was considered a national sensation due to its modern technology. Built in an era when concrete construction of buildings more than 18 storeys tall was considered unaffordable, the FOCSA was only the second project of its kind in the world.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba. There’s a bunker network in the parkland in front of this building, featuring an account of the Cuban Missile Crisis, from the Cuban point of view of course.

Along the Malecón you’ll find the José Martí Sports Park. It’s grandstand now in a serious state of decay.

Quiero respirar tu cuello despacito
Deja que te diga cosas al oído
Para que te acuerdes si no estás conmigo”

The Malecón attracts people wanting to catch fish. A good catch offers a chance to supplement their usual income.

My initial visits to the Malecón were during calm seas. I did get to see it as well later during rougher seas. The ambience of the Malecón changes completely.

That day, police shut the Malecón to all traffic for a while, something they do when the seas get too wild.

“Odio el mar, solo hermoso cuando gime”

“I hate the sea, beautiful only when it howls”

…Jose Marti.

See the fishermen in the background standing on the wall?

Uh oh


…beyond the sea(wall)

This is part 12 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

This is part 16 of my photo series of my 2017 trip to the USA, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

El Malecón


81 thoughts on “El Malecón

    • Thank you. It’s said that Frank Sinatra was there at the Havana conference at the Nacional as well.

      The aerial shots were taken from a private apartment, on the 8th or 10th floor of an apartment complex I was lucky enough to be granted access to. You can see similar apartments along the Malecon in the first photo of this post.

  1. J.D. Riso says:

    Lots of unique atmosphere at that spot, but my eyes were drawn to those classic cars. So many in such good condition!

    • In Cuban society, many are on a State salary. The big exception is the owners of classic cars who can earn upwards of $30 an hour via the tourist trade. And it’s the beautiful looking well maintained cars that catch the tourists. Even I requested a bright pink car for one of my tours, although i didn’t go so far as specifically seeking a cadillac. 🙂

  2. Those are some weathered buildings. Sounds like they have been through a lot with the town. It is amazing how those vintage cars shine so bright. Each of them look so well polished, like never seeing a bad hair day 🙂

  3. Wow, so much in one post! Okay, let me say once again, most of those cars are amazing! It is really sad to think of people living in those devastated buildings. But, then, I suppose that’s almost any country. Still sad. Love some of that architecture and that sea wall… well, let’s hope it holds. What a difference between the calm ocean and the stormy one. A sight to see indeed. Thanks for sharing all of this. It’s wonderful to see “inside” other countries, even if it’s through another person’s eyes!

    • My pleasure. Thanks for the very kind words. I was told that parts of northern Havana near the seawall were flooded during and after Hurricane Maria last year. I’m surprised many of those buildings still stand. But the resilience of the people is strong.
      The sea has such a dramatic effect on the appearance of the Malecon. It was fascinating to observe its different faces. Have a great week ahead.

  4. Wow, cool captures of “when it howls”! The The FOCSA Building Is magnificent. Thank you so much for the special ride, Dragon! Great images of these vintage cars.
    Enjoyed reading the historical info here. 🙂

  5. How different this is to the other photos of Old Havana, but still has that look of decay. The old cars are so picturesque. Are there any modern cars around? The idea of the sea wall is good, but only for small seas I can imagine a hurricane would just inundate the place. An interesting look at another side of this fascinating city/country and the history gives us an insight as well.

  6. Those walls have seen some action, Draco! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good look at the legendary Malecon. I love watching wild seas, but maybe from the rooftop where you took the ‘drop down’. Definitely not on the wall. 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks. I was inside an apartment, one of those multi-storey ones you can see in the photos. Drones are illegal in Cuba. They will be confiscated. Google earth/maps is also quite limited over Cuba.

  7. Daga says:

    Watching your pictures reminds me my own visit in Cuba in 2015. It didn’t change since then. People believed that with Obama trade embargo can be cancelled..

    • It’s almost bewildering, one’s first day in Havana. Everything you expect to see will be there in the first 15 minutes of a casual walk and it just keeps getting better. The owners of the classic cars take great pride in them.

  8. Wow mr Draco fabulous pictures! That sea looks like it means business .. Fishermen never cease to amaze me. The worse the weather the more they seem to enjoy the fishing! I must get there one day … 😃

    • Yes, you should get to Cuba if you can, Julie. You won’t regret it. It is so unique and fascinating. I agree with you about fishermen – the chance for a fish and they’ll brave anything.

  9. LB says:

    Hello! I’m back from an incredible Blogger Trip to the Southern Hemisphere and spending part of the evening visiting blogs. Looks like you’ve been busy traveling again.
    I absolutely love the images of the waves crashing on the rocks, and all the old cars on the road. Thanks for the tour!

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