Everyone wants the inside scoop on Casco Viejo, Panama's most charismatic neighborhood. Today, Casco Viejo (aka. Casco Antiguo, San Felipe or El Casco) is a vibrant community consisting of a sharp contrast of old and new, local and foreign. The buildings are in various stages or redevelopment and renovation, with a strictly enforced standard of Historical Authenticity. There is tremendous culture and a feeling which is unique only to this neighborhood in Panama.
Bolívar Square lies at the center of Manizales and is surrounded by the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Governor’s Palace, among other buildings. In the square you can admire Bolívar Condor, a sculpture made in tribute to Simón Bolívar made by Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt, as well as ceramic murals by local artist Guillermo Botero.
The origins of the Cathedral Metropolitan Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary date back to 1927, when the French architect Julien Auguste Polti was entrusted to rebuild it after a fire in 1926. Construction began in 1928 and ended in 1939, after work was interrupted due to the Great Depression of the 30s. The Cathedral measures 25,833 square feet and can accommodate 5,000 people.
Lovers’ Park (also called Santander Park) was built in the early 20th century and is characterized by a statue of General Francisco de Paula Santander and a bust of former President Manuel Murillo Toro in the centre.
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Zulia is a national institution of multiple cultural actions designed to insert itself deeply into the community. MACZUL is a cultural project born in Maracaibo thanks to the initiative of the University of Zulia.
The MACZUL art collection is mostly made up of high-quality contemporary artworks of aesthetic and creative significance or of documentaries, historical, technical and/or didactic importance, such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, designs, prints, illustrations, photographs, textiles, fireworks, video art and experimental non-objective artistic manifestations.
This is a beautiful plaza with several wonderful sculptures. It is located near the Santa Barbara Church and has beautiful fountains around it. The plaza is home to the Virgin of Chiquinquira’s monument which is 18 meters tall.
Then there are some nymphs with wings around the monument that are paying a tribute to the Virgin.
This is a historical castle built in the seventeenth century to protect the residents of Maracaibo from pirate attacks. It was the time when the city was attacked by pirates more often. Later, this castle was used for different purposes in different eras. In the nineteenth century, the Venezuelan army used it for military purposes. Then during Juan Vicenre Gomez’s dictatorship, it served as a prisoner for political antagonists. The government declared the Castillo de San Carlos de le Barra a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
One of the oldest and most historic regions of the country, Port Royal has maintained much of its independence as well as its heritage. Once the enclave of pirates and other outlaws, there is still a strong seafaring tradition. Much of the old city, described in the 17th century as the "wickedest city in the west", lies underwater beside the town, the result of an earthquake that in 1692 swallowed about two-thirds of the then-living space. Since then, another earthquake in 1907, numerous hurricanes, fires, and various population-decimating diseases have plagued the town. Despite all, the waters around Port Royal are a virtual archaeological gold mine, filled with pieces of history that tell of everyday life in the earliest days of English occupation. Port Royal is also home to the Archaeological Division of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), which recently completed a sonar survey of the underwater city, revealing a sunken pirate ship in the Kingston Harbour. To date thousands of artefacts have been recovered, and there are plans to develop a local museum to showcase these items once the research on them is complete.
Liberty Hall located at 76 King Street, Kingston was the centre of activities for the Kingston division of The U.N.I.A. It was acquired in 1923 for eight hundred pounds sterling (£800). The two-storey building was the first meeting hall in Jamaica that was fully owned and operated by blacks. It was the home to plays, concerts, dances, elocution pieces, adult and children's choirs. One famous play, which took place here, was the "Slave Ship", which recaptured the horrors of the Middle Passage.
Liberty Hall was so named because of Garvey's great admiration for the Irish independence movement and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union whose headquarters in Dublin was named Liberty Hall in 1912. It was at this place, described as "the fortress of the militant working class of Ireland" that many plans were made for Irish self-determination, and Garvey saw the U.N.I.A struggle as being akin to that of the Irish.
Liberty Hall is decked in colours red, black and green, which are of much significance. The red denotes the blood of the Negro race nobly shed in the past and dedicated to the future; black represents the colour of the skin and green represents a promise of a better life in Africa. This monument stands as a proud reminder to all Jamaicans, and indeed to all visitors of the works and achievements of the great visionary and National Hero the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
Sitting on 11 lush acres in the capital city, the stately Devon House mansion was the home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. It was built in 1881, on what was originally a 51-acre property.
Cinnamon Hill has a very historic and celebrated past. The house was built in 1734 by Edward Barrett, ancestor of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning.
It was subsequently owned by George Robertson, Joseph Shore, then the Henderson family until it was purchased by John Rollins in the 1960s. Johnny Cash bought the house from Rollins in the early 70s and he and his estate owned it until the Rollins family -Michele Rollins- bought it back in 2012 after the Cashes passed away.
Rumour has it there are ghosts living in the house, with many stories told from the Cash’s and other visitors about common sightings. But the real intrigue is the Cinnamon Hill Great House itself. The estate features island architecture, furnishings, native flowers, iridescent hummingbirds and still captures the spirit of the man in black. The interior is frozen in time with family photos, a crocodile Johnny helped catch and even a pair of Johnny’s well-worn work boots.
Discover the unique heritage and culture of Cayman via this lovingly restored window into the 18th century that’s only a 20-minute drive from George Town.
At a time in the Cayman Islands when most people lived in tiny, thatch-covered houses, a wealthy Englishman, using slave labour from Jamaica, created an astonishing 3-storey building called Pedro St. James.
In the 1990s, the Government of the Cayman Islands purchased Pedro St. James and painstakingly restored the Great House to the splendour of its 18th-century heritage.
Today, visitors can stroll through the imposing edifice with its period furniture and authentic artefacts to experience what life was like so long ago in Cayman’s history.
History tells that the current Municipal Palace was built where the former Town Hall was located since 1817. During that time the Act of Independence was signed in the city, on October 9, 1820. However by 1908 the building was burned due to a rodent plague.
The Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral stays from the early 20th century in the same place where other temples stood before since the 16th century. However, the repeated assaults of the pirates, the weather and the earthquakes destroyed the previous buildings.
Located in the heart of Belize City, St. John’s Cathedral is one of the few physical legacies of the long period as a British colony. Built in 1812 as the Church of England’s headquarters in Central America, the cathedral was once used to crown four different native kings of the Miskito tribe in lavish ceremonies matching the pomp and circumstances of coronations in Europe. Today, the cathedral is the oldest surviving building constructed by Europeans in Belize.
Using the enormous ballast stones brought over from Europe, English colonizers in what was then known as British Honduras erected the mighty St. John’s Cathedral as the power base of the Church of England in Central America. Visitors today can marvel at the well-preserved architecture made from sapodilla and mahogany wood, an antique pipe organ and tombstones of English colonists from the earliest days of the settlement of Belize City.
The Citadelle Laferrière is a mountaintop fortress, located on the northern coast of Haiti - on the top of mountain Bonnet a L’Eveque.
Depicted on local currency, stamps and postcards, this amazing structure has become the symbol of Haiti’s power and independence. It was built at the beginning of the 19th century by one of the leaders of Haiti’s slave revolution. The Citadelle Laferrière is also known simply as the Citadelle or as Citadelle Henri Christophe in the honour of its creator.
The Citadelle is referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World and in 1982 it was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This massive stone construction is the largest fortress in the Americas. Built to demonstrate the power of the newly independent Haiti, the Citadelle Laferrière was essential for the security of Haiti’s newly formed state.
Henri Christophe is also the one who ordered the construction of this palace. Although in ruins today, its remnants explain the extent of the territory on which it was built. Two earthquakes (1842 & 1843) seriously destroyed it.
This colossal monument was the personal residence of Henri Christophe and was divided into four sections including the King's apartments (Henri Christophe), left pavilion, the Queen's apartments and large stables. It even had a barracks, a hospital, a print shop and more. According to the hearsay, the style of the palace was to compete with the castle of Versailles.
The Dominican Republic’s contemporary art museum, the Museum of Modern Art is located in the Plaza de la Cultura, next door to many other museums and the National Theater. It exhibits examples of the best of Dominican art of the 20th century, as well as temporary exhibitions.
Before going out to buy Dominican art, educate yourself by browsing through the permanent collections of Dominican masters of art at the Museum of Modern Art.
Visit the first military fort in the continent and discover more about the Colonial history of Santo Domingo.
Erected in front of the mouth of the Ozama River, the Santo Domingo Fortress or Fortaleza Ozama Fortress is the first military construction in the Colony, and one of the World Heritage jewels in the Colonial Area.
The simple and solid construction was built by the Spaniards between 1502 and 1507 at the request of the governor Nicolás de Ovando, providing it with a Medieval style. However, during the following centuries, the place was modified and extended until it became an interesting building that you can see today. The main purpose of its construction was to defend the city from the attacks of British, Portuguese and French conquerors, as well as from the pillage of pirates.
The Alcázar de Colón is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Santo Domingo. The building dates from 1510 and is the oldest vice-regal residence in the Americas. It was originally the home of Diego Columbus, the governor of the colony and Christopher Columbus’ son.
Old Havana, located around the five main squares, and has one of the most impressive ensembles of historical architecture. From Baroque to Art Deco, from Neoclassicism to Art Nouveau, the rainbow-colored facades of the area adorn the diverse cultural heritage of Cuba.
Founded in the early 16th century on the southwest coast of Cuba by Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez, Havana moved twice before taking permanent establishment on the Caribbean island’s northwest coast.
Strategically chosen for its location in the Gulf of Mexico, Havana became a mandatory stop for ships traveling to and from the New World, and quickly became the largest port in the Spanish West Indies. Today, the city still claims some of the oldest stone fortifications in the Americas, and Old Havana, or Habana Vieja, claims some of the most beautiful architecture.
El Capitolio, or the National Capitol Building is one of the most visited sites in Havana. This majestic construction, located in the Centro Habana, is similar to that in Washington D.C, but a meter higher, a meter wider, and a meter longer, as well as much more rich in detail. It was started to be built by Gerardo Machado in 1926 supported by North America.
Formerly, it was used as headquarters of the Cuban Congress, but since 1959 it has hosted the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the Science and Technology National Library. The entrance is sheltered by 6 huge Doric columns, on top of a 55 steps granite staircase. In both sides on top of the stairs there are two amazing sculptures in bronze, a masculine and a feminine one, both 6,70 meters high, by the Italian Angelo Zanelli. When you cross them you’ll arrive to the Hall of Lost Steps, named in this way due to its wonderful acoustics, and in which center is the Republic statue, a huge woman in bronze 14,60 meters high and more than 30 tons weight, representing the virtue of the nation and work.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza Castle in Old Havana, Cuba, one of Cuba’s most ancient castles. It is a great sample of military architecture during the Spain's rule over the Caribbean. It is located in the Plaza de Armas Square in Old Havana facing the sea. The Castle, as well as the rest of the old city’s fortifications, has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Castillo de la Real Fuerza Castle is the oldest fortress still preserved in all the Americas. It was built between 1558 and 1577, in the same location where a fort was destroyed by French pirates in 1555. The west tower is crowned by the copy of a well-known bronze weathervane called La Giraldilla. The original was made in Havana in 1630 and is quite similar to the Giralda of Seville.
The Malecón, first named Avenida del Golfo, is Cuba’s most famous sea-side avenue. The project was undertaken by Don Francisco de Albear, Cuba’s greatest engineer at the time. Albear came up with a complex but smart design for the seawall, which was to be a lot more than just a promenade. According to historical records, the avenue was supposed to be constructed 4 meters above sea level. The whole project would cost 850,000 pesos, but the Spanish government didn’t bring itself to issue the construction permit and Albear’s proposal was postponed.
The construction of the Malecón began in 1901. After the first stretch was completed, for which several public facilities were demolished, construction works were resumed in 1921, and again in the 30’s.The architectural richness of the Malecón is also expressed through 18th- and 19th-century stately homes, followed by a row of 20th-century buildings with an unusual combination of styles and profusion of portals, columns and pilasters that loosely follow classical lines.
But beyond the architectural values of the buildings, its greatest charm lies in being somewhere to stroll or hang out on a stiflingly hot day. It is a place where couples come to make amends, especially at sunset, in the company of children and fishermen. It is Havana’s outdoor lounge.
Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes del Morro (Morro Castle) was erected between 1589 and 1630 to protect the mouth of the Havana port from pirates and invaders. The fortress stands on a rocky promontory known as El Morro, over the Atlantic. It was the King of Spain who ordered the castle to be built and appointed Juan de Texeda, a field commander, and Batista Antonelli, a military architect, to lead the works. The castle was originally planned to have an irregular polygonal shape, with three-meter-thick walls and deep moats.
The castle is an perfect example of renaissance military architecture, and is endowed with an harmonic elegance that melds with its natural surroundings through a series of terraces fused to the rock.
Nowadays, the castle offers impressive views of the sea and Havana. The lighthouse that crowns its tower was added in 1844 and helps guide ships docking in the port.
Chichen Itza is probably the most important city of the Mayan Culture in the Yucatan peninsula and has the most amazing buildings of any other Mayan ancient cities. Chichen Itza is also the largest and most impressive of the Mayan ruins, is an spectacular and mystical place to visit, if you only want to do one day trip during your vacation in Cancun, this should be this one.
Chichen-Itza (chee-chehn eet-sah) in Maya, was a sacred city of the Itza and the name literally means: "Mouth of the well of the Itza". Located 75 miles east of Merida, the capital of the State of Yucatan, Mexico; it covers an area of approximately six square miles where hundreds of buildings once stood. Now most are mounds but more than thirty may still be seen by tourists.
The ruins of Chichen Itza are divided into two groups. One group belongs to the classic Maya Period and was built between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D., at which time the city became a prominent ceremonial center. The other group corresponds to the Maya-Toltec Period, from the later part of the 10th century to the beginning of the 13th century A.D. This area includes the Sacred Well and most of the outstanding ruins.
Old San Juan, the most popular cruise destination in the Caribbean, is far from a cookie cutter vacation spot. Old San Juan is special in every way, known for it’s rich history, five century old forts, romantic ambiance, Old World elegance, exquisite food, and festive atmosphere.
Hidden in modern North Miami Beach, the Ancient Spanish Monastery takes us back. An enclave of European architecture and history, this Florida Heritage site—which was originally built in Sacramenia, a municipality of Segovia in northern Spain—has endured a long and interesting history to become the South Florida monument we know and love today.
“The Ancient Spanish Monastery is a little piece of Spanish history,” says Father Gregory Mansfield, Curator of the Ancient Spanish Monastery Museum & Gardens. “Construction began in 1133 AD, almost 360 years before Columbus left Spain and arrived in the Americas, and it took eight years to complete. There are over 35,000 stones, some of which weigh a ton and a half.”
In the 21st century, the Ancient Spanish Monastery serves as both a peek into history and a tourist attraction. At the entrance to the property, there’s a museum with historic Spanish artifacts like a hymnarium and pieces of armor worn during the Crusades. In that same building, there is also a gift shop with souvenirs available for purchase.
The Henry B. Plant Museum is housed in the 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel, the Victorian railroad resort that defined the elegant frontier, now a National Historic Landmark. Unlike most museums dedicated to lifestyles of the past, it contains the actual furnishings enjoyed by the first guests to visit here. The Museum accurately reflects the opulence of turn-of-the-century America and the vision of American transportation pioneer, Henry B. Plant.
The Museum seeks to transport the visitor through educational exhibits and events to the late Victorian period, the beginning of Florida’s tourist industry, and the early years of the city of Tampa.
The Straz Center for the Performing Arts provides world-class entertainment, ranging from lavish Broadway shows to classical music and rock concerts. It is the largest facility of its kind in the Southeastern United States.