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Havana on foot - Quinta Avenida

Havana on foot - Quinta Avenida

Quinta Avenida is a grand, mansion-lined leafy avenue which marks the entrance to the smart Havana suburb of Miramar.

Emerge from the tunnel that crosses under the Almendares River in western Havana to begin your walk alongside the four lanes of Fifth Avenue. The start of Miramar is heralded by the marble La Fuente de las Americas (The Americas Fountain) [1]. Fifth Avenue is also known for the signature Reloj de Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue Clock Tower) that straddles the central path at Calle 10 [2]. It was designed by NYC architect John F. Duncan in 1924, who also fashioned the Fifth Avenue fountain.

Just off to the right of the fountain, is the restored forest green Casa de las Tejas Verdes (House of the Green Tiles) [3], now an architecture centre (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

Quinta Avenida - Map

Fifth Avenue continues some eight kilometres west and is lined by neo-classical balustraded mansions in shades of cream and green, or honey. Most of these buildings are embassies, government offices, and the offices of foreign enterprises working in Cuba.

At Calle 10, where the clock tower rises, take a worthwhile detour to the left, to the end of the road, and corner of Avenida 7 where there is the outstanding art deco Casa de Jose Manuel Corralles (now a government office) [4]. Retrace your steps passing Espacios (one of Cuba's top new paladares and private bars) at no. 513, on your right [5].

Head west down Fifth Avenue, and you'll spy the Museo del Ministerio del Interior (Ministry of the Interior Museum) [6] on the corner of Calle 14 (currently closed). On the corner of Calle 16 is La Casa del Habano [7], Cuba's official purveyor of fine cigars. Pull in for a fine selection of tobacco aided by the helpful staff, and revive your energies with a Cuban cafecito - flavoured with sugar or honey and served dusted with cinnamon, and arranged on a saucer decorated with tobacco leaves.

If you need more than a coffee to re-energise, cross Avenida Tercera (3rd Avenue) and - if walking in May its beautiful avenue of flame trees - and call in at Paladar La Esperanza at no. 105 [8] for private dining in the elegant home of a Miramar couple.

Beyond Avenida Primera, further north, is the local hangout Playita 16 [9] - a scrub of land popular with relaxing locals and scuba divers who clamber into the sea here. Turn west here along Avenida Primera (First Avenue) where you'll see Don Cangrejo [10], one of Havana's enduring popular nightlife spots at Calle 18. At Calle 22, turn south to visit the Casa Compay Segundo (Mon-Fri 9am-3.30pm; free), a small museum at no. 103 [11] featuring discs and trophies in the house where the Buena Vista Social Club singer Compay Segundo lived from 1998 until his death in 2003.

Continue back to Fifth Avenue where, on the corner of Calle 22, is the palatial, dusty pink neo-classical mansion of the Spanish hotel company, Sol Melia. Diagonally opposite, is a fine art deco building, Casa de Argüelles [12]; look up to see its floral motifs facing the main avenue.

At Calle 24 is Parque Miramar [13], dense with banyan trees, an elegant bandstand, and the 1942 Iglesia de Santa Rita de Cassia (Church of Santa Rita of Cassia) featuring a statue of Saint Rita by famous Cuban sculptor Rita Longa [14].

Head north up Calle 26 back to Third Avenue where you'll come across the chic Havana-meets-Miami Beach Milano private restaurant and club at no. 2404 between Calles 24 and 26 [15].

Stop for a well-earned coffee break at the cute Cafe Fortuna [16] on the corner of Third Avenue and Calle 28. On Third Avenue, hail a classic Cuban American car for 10 local pesos and get off at Calle 60 where you can catch dolphin and sea lion shows at the city's Aquarium (Tues-Sun 10am-6pm) [17].

Walk south along Calle 60 and you'll pass the neo-Romanesque Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua (Church of St Anthony of Padua) [18] on the corner of Fifth Avenue (open during mass). Behind the church rears the colossal 1985 tower of the Embajada de Rusia (Russian Embassy) [19].

Turn south off Fifth Avenue at Calle 70 before heading to the Fundacion Antonio Nunez Jimenez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation) [20] at Calle 5B no. 6611 between Calles 66 and 70 (Mon-Fri 9am-3.30pm). This curious foundation-cum-museum houses the extensive and beautiful library and exhibits of academic and explorer Jimenez, and the kayak he used to travel from the Amazon to the Caribbean in the 1987-88 international exploration expedition; it also displays the only known bust of Fidel Castro carved in bronze in the 60s.

Claire Boobbyer

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Claire Boobbyer

Claire Boobbyer

Cultural Explorer

A self-confessed wanderluster and devoted culture lover, Claire writes about her frequent travels...

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