Cultural Cuba travel will serve as a crash course on Cuban art history. Cuba’s African, Spanish and Chinese demographics are clearly evident in the work of Cuba artist Victor Manuel (1897-1969)
whose Gitana Tropical
(1929) became one of the most iconic pieces of the Cuban Vanguard Era. A beautiful mulata with Chinese eyes, this painting shows a particular style where the modern European trends of the period are mixed with a primitive style.
Cuba cultural travel from USA grants tour participants access to Cuba’s most significant art groups such as the Experimental Printing Workshop (1962), the only of his kind in the island where young Cuban artists produced the most incredible stone lithographs and etchings that are later exhibit and sold in the upper level gallery. Housed in an airy colonial building in the historical centre of the city, the workshop is full of colour, creative energy and craftsmanship.
One of the highlights of the cultural Cuba travel for Americans is the chance to explore Cuba’s Higher Institute of Arts, Cuba’s leading art schools where we will be welcomed by professors and students who will share their unique views on Cuba’s artistic education with our group. The architecture of the faculty of visual arts is simply out of this world. Using mainly local bricks, Cuban architect Ricardo Porro created one of the most significant architectural landmarks of Cuba’s early revolutionary period. Resembling the shape of a woman, the building features red tile domes and large curving corridors that organically integrate into the surrounding natural landscape.
As a picturesque alleyway street trapped in a humble housing area in Centro Havana municipality or as a high altar to African religions we could describe Callejon de Hammel, the most significant creation of Cuban painter Salvador Gonzales whose murals and sculptures depict the African origin religious belief and practices of the entire community. Cuba cultural travel for Americans is about people to people exchange!
Cultural Cuba travel from USA features a visit to one of the largest collection of Cuban art in the world. The Fine Art Museum (Cuban Collection Building) is without doubt a visit not to be missed by those travelling to Cuba to discover the rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean island. Permanent and temporary exhibits are curated with the objective of showcasing the wealth of Cuban culture while taking visitors to an incredible journey through the history of Cuban visual arts.
While privately owned art galleries are a new phenomenon of this decade (with some exceptions), well-established art galleries run by the government still have a final saying on what glitters on Cuba’s art scene, and Galeria Habana (1962) is no exception. Among the list of artist that has exhibited here are names like Lam, Mariano and Portocarrero as well as younger Toirac, Garaicoa and Rene Pena. Cuba cultural travel showcases a tour of this art gallery is in order to explore Cuba’s current art trends and discover new talents.
From Korda to Pena, Cuba’s Photo Art Gallery, or Fototeca de Cuba carries on its shoulders the responsibility of preserving Cuba’s photographic patrimony. The gallery organizes permanent exhibits from its own collections as well as temporary ones to exhibit the work of well-known and up-and-coming photographers of Cuba. International photographers are also invited on regular basis to exhibit their artwork at the institution. We will be welcomed by local curators for a tour of the facility and a briefing on the history of Cuba’s photography.
Travelling to Cuba’s biosphere reserves is one of the authentic Cuba attractions that sets our Cuba cultural tours apart from the crowd. Founded in the heart of Sierra del Rosario mountain range (Cuba's first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), Las Terrazas is a 1000 people community that has among its permanent residences famous Cuban artist, Lester Campa, a naturalist painter whose paintings are within the collections of worlwide modern art museums.
Day 1. Saturday 13 August 2022.
Cultural Cuba Travel Begins!
Your Cultural travel in Cuba begins today. Upon arrival at terminal 3 of Havana’s airport “Jose Marti” you will be met by your Authentic Cuba Travel® full time escorts, your experienced Cuban guide and bus driver who will take you to a Casa Particular
or to the Quinta Avenida Hotel
The bus transfer is short but enough time for your guide to provide some basic orientation
that will prove handy over the next few days. Listen carefully and ask questions.
Once at your accomodation, you will be personally assisted by the clerks and doormen to complete you’re check-in quickly. Please do notice that breakfast is complimentary and will be served from 7 to 10 o’clock every morning.
Day 2. Sunday 14 August 2022.
Cuba Cultural Tours start in Old Havana
Morning: Cuba cultural tours from USA start by paying a visit to Old Havana’s Scale Model
, a scale model that reproduces in scale 1:1500 the historical centre and surrounding strips of Havana city. The model is the work of love of Orlando Martorell and his wife and it took them three years to complete. Our host for the morning, renowned Cuban architect Miguel Coyula will offer interesting insights into Havana’s growth over the last 500 years.
Most of our Cuba cultural trips for Americans include a complimentary lunch. An today, it will be served at the stylish Cafe Laurent
. Located just around the corner from the historic Hotel Nacional, this privately run restaurant soon became one of the best in the city.
Afternoon: after lunch, we will tour the world famous Experimental Printing Workshop
founded by Cuban artist Orlando Suarez in 1962. Despite of the fact that printmaking in Cuba has a long history that can be traced back to the use of designed lithographs and printings to decorate Cigar boxes in the 19th century, Taller de Grafica Experimental
remains Cuba’s only cooperative workshop were many young Cuban artists can be found working tirelessly every day. There’s an art gallery in the upper floor that showcases authentic Cuba etchings and lithographs produced in the workshop_ a must-stop
in our Cuba cultural travel from US.
Our Cuba art tour will continue with a walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site
, Old Havana
. Following the lead of your expert Authentic Cuba Travel® guide we will start at
the Cathedral Square
First thing you will notice is that this is a very intimate pretty lively square, and then you will take notice of the beautiful Cathedral of Havana
showcasing two unequal towers that somehow frame the theatrical baroque facade of the building.
The one-time wealthy merchants of colonial Havana built their palaces around the square in the late 18th century. Among those, the former Palace of the Counts of Casa Bayona
(1720) which is the oldest house on the Plaza and an example of Havana’s architecture of the 18th and 19th century. Today it contains the Museum of Colonial Art. We belive that Cuba cultural travel from USA should devote ample time to explore the architectural heritage of Cuba.
The Palace of the Marquises of Aguas Claras
(1760) is renowned for its wide portico and Andalucian central patio. The Palace houses El Patio restaurant today, which you can’t miss because of the non-stop live music played by the host band.
We will continue by foot to the original site of foundation of San Cristobal de La Habana
in 1519. A commemorative neoclassical chapel, known as El Templete
on the east side of the Arms Square
marked the spot. Inside the little building we find three paining depicting the historical event by Jean Baptiste Vermay.
Next to El Templete
we can see the oldest fortress of Cuba built by the Spaniards around the mid of the 16th century, Castillo de La Real Fuerza
served as the seat of government for 200 years. Do not miss the west tower of the castle which is crowned by one of the most authentic Cuba symbols, a weather-vane known as La Giraldilla
cast in broze in Havana in 1632.
Used for military exercises and official ceremonies during colonial times, the Plaza de Armas
stood as the centre of Spanish ruling in Cuba for 400 centuries. The Palace of the Captain Generals
on the west site of the square was the residence of the Captain General and seat of Spanish authority until Cuba gained its independence at the beginning of the 20th century. The neighboring Palace of the Vice-Governor
, Palacio del Segundo Cabo served as the headquarters of the Spanish vice governors during the same period.
Our Cuba travel through history takes us now to the commercial square of the old city. Centered by a white marble sculpture titled The Lions’ Fountain
(1836) by Italian sculptor Gaginni, and flanked by the former Church and Convent of San Francisco de Asis
, San Francisco Square
has a long trading history that started in earlier colonial days when it served to store cargo arriving in the harbor and continued well until the early 20th century when Havana’s commodities exchange market, La Lonja del Comercio
was established here.
We will pay visits to the art galleries, workshops and private residences of well-established painters Cuban Nelson Dominguez
and Venezuelan Carmen Montilla
. Both artists financed the restoration of beautiful colonial 18th century houses facing the square and were granted a for-life lease on the properties on return by the Office of the City Historian.
Cuba cultural trips will have to pay a mandatory visit to the Old Square
(or Plaza Vieja) because of the abundance of authentic Cuban art galleries in the area. In fact, a few of the former mansions of Havana’s aristocracy such as the House of Jaruco Counts
that surround the square contain important art galleries today such as the Fototeca de Cuba
(Photo Art Exhibits), the Centre for the Development of Visual Arts
and La Casona Art Gallery
to mention some. Your Authentic Cuba Travel® tour guide will give you an introduction to such important art institutions for the promotion and preservation of Cuban visual arts.
Next we will take some time off at the famous Market of Old Havana
where you can do some souvenir shopping.
Evening: there are no scheduled activities in the itinerary tonight and we recommend taking advantage of the time to attend a performance of the National Ballet of Cuba
at the Gran Teatro de La Habana
. Please check with your authentic Cuban guide for ticket availability and theatre programming (optional/ not included).
Day 3. Monday 15 August 2022.
Cuba Cultural Travel through Time!
Morning: today our Cuba Cultural Journey for US Citizens will sort of travel through time as we embark on a crash course on Cuban art history. Cuban art is always being a reflection of the demographics of the country, mainly of Spanish and African origins. And Cuban artists have always managed to depict the reality of the different historical moments of the Cuban society while appropriating trendy European and North American styles in vogue during each period. That’s why, as part of our Cuba art tour, we will spend most of this morning exploring the world's largest collection of Cuban arts housed at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (1954)
From the earliest religious art works of Nicolas de La Escalera
in colonial times to the latest trends in conceptual art produced in Cuba this decade by artists like Kcho
and others, this world class art museum showcases all Cuban art works that have stood the past of time. It represents an unparalleled opportunity for our art Cuba tour participants to gain an in depth knowledge of Cuban arts
Then we are off for some rumba and authentic Cuba “live” culture to Callejon de Hamel
, a picturesque street in the municipality of Centro Habana where gigantic Afro- Cuban inspired murals covered the facades of entire buildings. This is the art work and brainchild of renowned Cuban artist Salvador Gonzalez
who will welcome our group at his studio. Each Sunday rumba musicians and dancers turn this alleyway into a big street party.
But Salvador is not the only artist who has turned a somewhat humble neighbourhood into a world class attraction.
Cuban artist Jose Fuster
, a well-established ceramist and painter is also a man on a mission. Next we will take a bus ride to Jaimanitas town
, a coastal town at the western edge of Havana city where Fuster established its private residence, workshop and center of operations more than 30 years ago.
As we entered Jaimanitas
we start to see humble fishermen houses showcasing vibrant and colourful ceramic murals and artworks. So far about 80 homes have been decorated by Fuster who intends to continue until there are no blank spaces left in the town.
We will enjoy a complimentary lunch
hosted by the artist, sometimes nicknamed the Caribbean Picasso
, at his house, a wild homage to Gaudi and Brancusi
Afternoon: one of the highlights of our Cuba cultural tours is the chance to meet with Cuban upcoming artists who are already making a name for themselves in Cuba and in European and North American markets. The afternoon will be devoted to visit the private galleries, workshops and studios of some of them like Alicia Leal
, Juan Moreira
, Juan Carlos Alom
, Britos’ Sisters
and Ernesto Benitez
Evening: tonight is a special night as our group will be hosted by Cuban musicians at the Elsa’s Rooftop
in Old Havana. Salsa, Rumba and Mambo are among the popular Cuban rhythms you will dance to and even play this evening led by Elsa and her team, an authentic Cuba treat!
Day 4. Tuesday 16 August 2022.
Latest Trends in Cuba's Art
Morning: today we will tour the Faculty of Visual Arts
of Cuba’s National School of Arts
. The faculty seats on the 18-hole golf club of the elitist former Havana Country Club. It is the most striking of five buildings erected in the area in the early 1960’s showcasing long brick curving corridors and domed halls in woman-like shapes and it is the brainchild of Cuban architect Ricardo Porro.
Once again our Cultural travel to Cuba offers our American travelers the opportunity of meaningful people to people exchanges with the real Cuban people. As we tour the classrooms, workshops and facilities of the Higher Institute of Arts
(elevated to this status in 1976), we will meet the youngest generation of Cuba’s plastic artists and their professors all active artists themselves.
Paladar La Guarida
, an institution for Cuban restaurateurs is our next stop. Authentic Cuban recipes the likes of rotisserie chicken, black beans and white rice are in the complimentary menu which is cmplemented by the genuine Cuban decor of the place.
Afternoon: first we will go the well-established government-run Galeria Havana
(or Havana’s Art Gallery) (1962) considered Cuba's premier cultural institution for the promotion of the latest trends in Cuban visual arts. Among the exhibitions that the Havana Art Gallery has hosted through the years are those of Cuba’s most famous artists such as Wifredo Lam
, Amelia Pelaez
, Rene Portocarrero
The remainder of the afternoon, in this Cuba cultural travel for US citizens, will be devoted to visit the studios of Cuban artist who have been considered as iconic figures of the so called generation of the 1990’s decade when the tragedy of immigration, economic isolation and scarcity in the island became central themes.
We are talking about artists like Carlos Garaicoa
and Jose Angel Toirac
Evening: the saying goes amongst Cubans that if you are a “real” Cuban, you must attend the Ceremony of the Shooting of the Cannon
at least once in your lifetime. This colourful ceremony takes place every night at 9 O'clock in the Fortaleza de La Cabana (largest Spanish-built military fortification in The Americas). For sure it is an authentic Cuba tradition that we do not want our Cuba travellers to miss.
Day 5. Wednesday 17 August 2022.
Exploring Well-Established Cuban Art Galleries
Morning: our first visit of the day's Cuba cultural travel is to the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Wifredo Lam
. If you have visited the Museum of Modern Art of New York
(MOMA), then you have probably seen some of the most famous art works by Wifredo Lam, The Jungle
(1943) painted by the artist in Cuba after his return from Europe where he met Pablo Picasso and Andres Breton and he was an active member himself of the Surrealist movement.
Housed in the former mansion of the Condes de Penalver by the Cathedral Square, The Contemporary Art Centre Wifredo Lam
was established to preserve and promote the life and work of Wifredo Lam. Since 1984 the cultural institution is also taken the role of the organization of the Havana Art Biennial, a fair that takes place every two years for the promotion of Cuban and Third World artists.
As lunch is not included today in your cultural Cuba travel schedule, your Authentic Cuba Travel® guide will help you choose a cafeteria, restaurant or paladar (family-owned restaurants) to have lunch on your own.
Afternoon: this afternoon we go up front to the Plaza Vieja
for more up close and personal visits to the art institutions surrounding the square.
We will start at the Centre for the Development of Visual Arts
to explore current exhibits by Cuban youngest generation of visual artists, then we will continue to the Photo Gallery of Cuba
(Fototeca), Cuba’s leading cultural organization when it comes to the preservation of the photographic patrimony of the island nation. Finally we will visit La Casona Art Gallery
that contains several shops and art galleries run by Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales (Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets).
In the late afternoon, we go back to our hotel.
Evening is free and we recommend you try some of the musical venues at the hotel such as the musical show at the Parisien Cabaret
or simply enjoy the host band at the hotel's garden terrace while sipping a mojito and catching the sea breeze. Yes, best Cuba cultural tours also make a pause!
Day 6. Thursday 18 August 2022.
Cuba Art Explorer II Goes Country!
This cultural journey to Cuba from USA takes you today for a day trip to Cuba’s mountainous areas west of Havana city where we will visit an authentic Cuba village of little more than a thousand inhabitants.
Located in the ever-green UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Sierra del Rosario
mountain range, and built by the banks of a man-made lake in the San Juan River, Las Terrazas
boats a variety of nature related activities like hiking, trekking and bird watching and is charge with the atmosphere of the hospitality of the Cuban country people.
It is also home to several Cuban artisans and artists the likes of renowned naturalist painter Lester Campa
whose workshop we will be honoured to visit today. We will also pay a visit to the former house of Cuba’s singer and songwriter Polo Montanez
that was converted into a museum in 2002 at his death_ another first of the cultural travel to Cuba from USA.
This area was a popular coffee growing region in the second half of the 19th century, and next we will explore the ruins of the Buenavista Coffee Plantation
showcasing today the original drying platforms and estate house.
is an upscale environmentally friendly hotel that we will visit next. Build amid the vegetation of pines, cedar trees, and mahoganies, it is sometimes hard to separate the man-made infrastructure from the natural settings.
A delicious countryside style lunch (complimentary) will be served at a rustic restaurant by the banks of the San Juan River
Afternoon: we are going to enjoy some free time after lunch to explore the sights and sounds of village at our own pace, take a swim at the crystal clear waters of the San Juan River or partake in ecotourism activities in the area before heading back to Havana city.
Evening: if you wonder whether there’s more to Cuban music than Son and Salsa, you should take a short walk tonight to the Jazz Club La Zorra y El Cuervo
to enjoy the performances of Cuba's best Jazz musicians
(optional/ not included). Even though it is not included in the schedule of your cultural Cuba travel, we encourage you to do so!
Day 7. Friday 19 August 2022.
Today is free so that you can revisit some of your favourite art galleries and museums. If you bought any Cuban artwork directly from the artists, or are in the process of doing so, which by the way is one of the possibilities that our cultural travel to Cuba for Americans offers, you can also take part of the day to complete the required paper work to export your art pieces. No worries, your Authentic Cuba Travel® guide and the artists’ managers will do most of the work for you. We got your back!
Evening: as a closing act for the Art Cuba Explorer tour we will gathered for dinner at the upscale Paladar San Cristobal
. This is the moment to say farewell to your Cuban guide and bus driver as tomorrow would be kind of hectic with departure arrangements.
Day 8. Saturday 20 August 2022.
This is the sad moment of the tour when we say goodbye to Cuba and its people. After checking twice your room and safe deposit box
to make sure nothing is left behind, you will meet with your guide and bus driver for a transfer out to the Havana’s airport. Keep handy your passport, flight tickets, and other travelling documentation.