Havana is one of the world's most beguiling cities, renowned for its gracious people and vibrant music and dance, yet seemingly caught in a 1950s time-warp. Old Havana, or Habana Vieja, is an amalgam of historic structures, cobbled plazas, castles, cathedrals and classical mansions that date back centuries from the height of Spanish influence. In fact, Havana's core is unrivaled in the Americas for its legacy of historic buildings, although many are in various states of dereliction; others have been renovated and serve as museums, hotels and restaurants.

Beyond the old city core in Havana, the mid-20th-century enclave of Vedado teems with hotels and nightclubs. Plaza de la Revolucion hosts Cuba's government buildings. Farther afield, visitors to Havana will find the Museo Hemingway and the glorious beaches of Playas del Este.

Although Havana's physical attractions are reason enough to visit, travelers often visit to experience the unique, almost surreal, amalgam of socialism and sensuality unique to Cuba. Five decades of communism have not been kind to the city of Havana, and controversy continues still.

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