Caribbean Snapshots: El Capitolio, Havana, Cuba

Central Havana’s most elaborate building shouldn't be missed


Any visit to downtown Havana should include a tour of El Capitolio. No expense was spared when the building was commissioned in 1926, a time when this island nation was flush with income from the sugar boom. Thousands of laborers spent three years finishing the grand neoclassical edifice that is actually taller and richer in detail that the US Capitol building that inspired the design, and cost the equivalent of $240 million on today’s dollars.

Inside details include tall granite columns and marble halls decorated with frescos depicting Cuban history. In the central hall, one of the world’s largest bronze statues stands as homage to the Republic, and a replica of a 25-karat diamond embedded in the floor that marks the point from which all distances in Cuba are calculated. El Capitolio housed Cuba’s House of Representatives and Senate until the revolution of 1959. Today it is home to the Museum of Science, Technology and the Environment, and welcomes visitors.