Havana Houses

Cuba holds the fact of having the oldest house in Latin America


The year 1516 seems from another time, even more considering that the Island of Cuba was discovered by the Europeans in 1492, but was precisely in 1516 that the works on building the mansion of Diego Velázquez, Spanish conqueror, first governor of the island and founder of the seven first villages. The famous mansion wasn’t finished until 1530, was built with the goal of being the residence of the first governor of the island and, at the same time,  as the House of Trade and Melting of Gold, but by the time it was finished, it was Gonzalo Guzmán, and no Diego Velazquez the ruling governor. This way, in the west side of the Plaza de Armas, Cespedes Park today, in Santiago de Cuba, was established the oldest house in Cuba and Latin America.










History wanted that the trace of this house got lost after it was dwelled by Gonzalo Guzman. Records show that in the 19 century it was turned into a hotel called “La Venus”. Then it was turned into a tenement dwelling, commercial establishments, textile manufacturing workshop, a Masonic Lodge, the Republican Spanish Center, offices and other businesses. As the years passed by, time was gradually deteriorating this ancient building, helped by carelessness of successive governments to revitalize the property, which housed a historical treasure: an oven where gold was mined melted at the beginning of the Spanish conquest. It was not until 1952 that a contest was celebrated in the province of Santiago to approve a project to rebuild the city hall. Among the contestant works it was approved the one by the Catalan Dr. Francisco Prat Puig and in 1954 it reopens with its new design. Following this construction Prat presented another project, this time to restore the former home of the Spanish governor. Thus, in November 1965, following approval of its proposal, it is opened as what is currently known as: Cuban Historical Environment Museum.










In 1973 the local government of Santiago de Cuba, decided to give to the museum house next to it, so it can use it for recreating the passages of the nineteenth century. This landmark provides an amalgam of architectural styles, from Moorish touches, to neoclassic trends. The Cuban Historical Environment Museum since its foundation retains the same mounting set, which together with its structural beauty and her priceless heritage value, make the oldest house in Latin America a landmark and a must.