The latest news from the Cuban capital informs us that the well-known Havana Customs building is to be converted into a hotel and tourist complex for cruise ships. Read on and find out more about this historic building, and its future plans!
Using the past to shape the future
In an effort to bolster the island's tourism industry post-Coronavirus, an exciting project is underway in Havana that hopes to transform the popular Customs building into the Hotel Real Aduana, a five-star hotel operated by Habaguanex, with 55 spacious rooms from which you can enjoy the unique environment that Havana Bay has to offer.
Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings on Avenida del Puerto, the old Havana Customs House has Grade II protection status, granted by the National Commission of Cuban Monuments.
Originally inaugurated in 1914, the building is a prominent fixture on the Avenida del Puerto and was built by esteemed multinational engineering and design firm Barclays Parson & Klapp. For over half a century, it was operated by the American company Havana Docks Corporation and was considered to be amongst the best in the world.
Sculpting the face of Havana
Havana is well-known for its beautiful buildings, and although the changing face of historic cities can sometimes be seen as a pity as old edifices are replaced by the new, the Customs Building being converted into a hotel will not disappoint.
The Cuban capital's most prevalent architectural styles are Baroque and Neoclassicism. Cuba's colourful Spanish colonial buildings are famous throughout the world, and many more were added all over the island in the 1750s.
Neoclassicism gained its ascendancy in the 1820s and continued, amid numerous revivals, until the 1920s, before the trademark buildings of what is known as the "American Era" (1902–59) exhibited Art Deco and, later on, Modernist styles. Havana also boasts many buildings influenced by Catalan Modernism made recognisable by their Art Nouveau curves.
With all this in mind, the extensive restoration process of the Customs Building means that extra care will be taken not to detract from its aesthetic beauty, and there will be specific requirements that must be adhered to, in order to preserve the building's original form.
The history behind Hotel Real Aduana
The building was not solely used as a Customs House though. It has had other official functions, such as serving as the Harbour Master's Office, the headquarters for the Maritime Police, the Doctors of the Port, the Immigration Department, as well as the offices for the General Inspection of the Port.
In addition to their decorative function as viewpoints, the Havana Customs House's striking towers concealed two water tanks in each one, which was the basis for the operation of the building's advanced fire-fighting system.
Seeing its bold neoclassical elements converging with the traditional semi-circular arches, and its typical Spanish colonial appearance, there's no doubt that the Hotel Real Aduana will be considered one of the most beautiful places to stay in the historic city of Havana.