Havana’s Malecón: A balcony to the World


APRIL, 2017


The Malecón is a broad esplanade which extends for approximately 4 miles along the nothern coast of Havana. It begins at the entrance of Havana bay area, located in Old Havana, and ends in the Vedado neighborhood. The first attempt to build this seawall was led by the distinguished cuban engineer Francisco de Albear – the one who designed the water supply system of Havana- in 1861(1) but the works  began in 1901 when the engineer Mr. Mead and his assitant Mr. Whitney supervised the construction of the initial 2 stretches. Actually, it was the US Navy and the US military who financed this stage under the government of Leonardo Wood during the first US military occupation in Cuba(2).

Photograph by Sveto Nikic.

The Malecón was originally built to protect Havana from the floods during the winter months and to sanitize the cost line(1), but it ended up serving more for promenades by the people of Havana and tourists.

It is also a place full of history because of the monuments in honor to some of the most important cuban generals of the Independence War, and the monument in memory of the victims of the USS Maine explosion.

Despite more than a century of damages -mainly due to hurricanes- the Malecón still remains as one of the most visited destinations in Havana city. As time goes by, it has become a favorite walkway for couples, local children, and foreigners of all ages and nationalities. Some people actually say that a walk along this unique balcony to the world, provides an intimate glimpse at Havana’s life style.

  1. REY G. Centro Habana. Un futuro sustentable. Centro de Estudios urbanos, Facultad de Arquitectura, ISPJAE, Ediciones CUJAE. 2009.
  2. Cuevas Jdl, Sala G, Padrón A. 500 años de construcciones en Cuba. DV Chavín, Servicios Gráficos y Editoriales, SL, para esta edición. 2001.
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