Visit the Capitolio Nacional in Havana

The building of the Capitolio Nacional, photo by jodastephen/Flickr

One of the best-known landmarks of Havana and even Cuba, the Capitolio Nacional is a fantastic tourist attraction of the capital city. The building wears the characteristics of Neoclassical and art nouveau architectural styles. Its design resembles to Washington’s United States Capitol. Also named El Capitolio, the fantastic building is very popular among visitors of Havana. Almost every visitor of the capital city visits the Capitolio Nacional. It is not surprising if we think of the building’s significance. Want to find out more about the National Capitol Building? Read the following article.


History of the Capitolio Nacional

The site of the building was actually occupied by a swamp. It was also the site of Cuba’s first botanic garden. After the botanic garden closed its doors and the plants were transported, the Villanueva Station was constructed on the site, in 1839. The station was in use until the early 20th century. There were different construction projects for the site of the Capitolio. The construction of the building was started in 1917, but works stopped during the World War I. Later, in 1925, Gerardo Machado President ordered a new design. After demolishing the unfinished building, works began in 1926. It was finished in only 3 years. The building was named El Capitolio and was inaugurated in 1929. The decoration of the interior part took 2 more years and in 1931 the legislature moved in. Marble plays an important role in the building’s decoration. Today, the main floor can be visited.

The building of the Capitolio Nacional, photo by jodastephen/Flickr


The building and the gardens

The third largest statue (under cover) of the world is housed in the fantastic Neoclassical building of the Capitolio Nacional. The cupola of the Capitolio was inspired by the Pantheon in Paris. With its 92 m, it used to be the capital city’s tallest building until the 1950’. There are 55 steps which lead to the “La Escalinata”, the main entrance, which is flanked by two beautiful and huge statues. As I already mentioned it, the third largest statue (under cover) of the world named “the Statue of the Republic” can be found inside the building, dominating the main hall. The gardens which surround the Capitolio are as magnificent as the building. These were designed by a French landscape architect, on the base of some wonderful European gardens.

The Capitolio surrounded by the gardens, photo by Chris Lancaster/Flickr

The Capitolio Nacional as a tourist attraction

As an important building of the capital city, the Capitolio is a significant tourist attraction of Havana. It is considered the capital city’s most popular attraction. The main floor is open to the public. Visitors can admire the fantastic and huge statue named “the Statue of the Republic”. Another highlight of the Capitolio is the replica of a huge diamond which marks Kilometer Zero in the country and which can be found in the main hall. The Capitolio is open from Friday to Monday from 9:15 to 15:45 and on Thursdays from 9:15 to 13:45. (October 2012)

The entrance of the Capitolio Nacional, photo by Chris Lancaster/Flickr


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