Havana, Cuba - Two faces of a city. A photo documentary.

in travel •  last year

If you want to see what life in Cuba is really like, take a trip to Cuba and walk a few streets away from the places that the Lonely Planet recommends you to visit - Museums in Cuba are all the same anyway. If you can not make it to Cuba soon, check out this photo documentary, which aims to show the different sides of Havana.

Colourful Classic Cars and Colourful Facades.

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Welcome to Havana, a city that never fails to impress tourists with its colourful classic cars and facades! When I visited Cuba in 2015, I instantly fell in love with the city. Colourful facades like this one can mostly be found in Habana Vieja.

Plaza Mayor: Beautiful Havana.

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Habana Vieja has been vastly renovated in the past years, in the touristy core of Habana Vieja there are only few normal apartments remaining. With tourism being the major source of foreign currency income for Cuba, renovations now mostly take part in the outer parts of Habana Vieja.

Under Renovation.

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The capitolio, a well-known landmark of Havana, has been under renovation for years. The capitolio divides Habana Vieja from Habana Central.

A City in Between Decay and Revolution.

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Next to the capitolio lies Centro Habana, where there are few tourists and many Cubans living. Your picture of Havana starts changing..

Shopping in Cuba.

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Visiting a Cuban store can be an interesting experience. In the Western World we are used to having a huge choice of what to buy, but in Cuba the choice is limited.

Cuban Reality.

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The reality in Cuba is different to the common perception. The shortage of goods is not only caused by a failing socialist economy, but also by the trade embargo emposed by the US after the Cuba Crisis in 1962. Ever since, no product that has a part that is intellectual or physical property of an US-company can be imported into Cuba. A Cuban guy explained it to me like this: If there is a Chinese company producing a calculator patented by a German company in a Brazilian factory, it can still not be imported to Cuba if an US-based company owns a patent for the solar cell of the calculator.
Since nearly any product is therefore affected by the embargo, Cubans try to kept their famous classic cars running and have managed to do so for the past 60 years.

The Iconic Malecón.

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The famous classic cars are mostly owned by the government; with an average salary of less than 20 USD per month most Cubans could not even afford the fuel. There are nearly no traffic jams in Cuba - no wonder considering that there are only roughly 17 cars per 1000 people.
Apart from the classic cars are some Soviet cars around as well as some new Chinese cars.

The Ugly Side of Havana.

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Directly on the Malecon in Centro Habana there are houses that look like they have not been renovated since before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, since the Castro regime decided to invest in the countryside.

As you see, behind the colourful facade there is a different side to Havana: The harsh reality of life in socialist country with a troubling economy. I fell in love with Havana not despite, but because of its differences. Visiting Cuba is a truly unique experience that I can certainly recommend!
Have you been to Cuba? Comment below!

Follow me for Part 2!

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I have reached 50 followers today, so I decided it was time for my first photo documentary. If this post can attract enough upvotes, I plan to do a second part of this series about another major tourist hotspot in Cuba - Trinidad.


The numbers and statistics cited in the article are mostly derived from conversations I had during my stay in Cuba and may not be totally accurate.

Many of these photos have never been published before. I am just getting started on Steemit and have many more great photos to offer, so if you like my content please follow & upvote - the more followers I have, the higher is my motivation to produce high quality content!
All my photos are available for licensing, please contact me through my Website or Steemit chat @jpphotography.

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This post has received gratitude of 1.00 % from @jout


You got a 0.35% upvote from @postpromoter courtesy of @jout!

Heya, just swinging by to let you know you're being featured in our Daily Travel Digest!

Incredible photography here, and I loved the way you gave some more insight in the economic situation of the country!


Cool, I have been following your Travel Digests for a while, amazing to see my post featured there!

Hi! Congratulations on your winning picture of my 7 World's Continents Photo Challenge. Feel free to interact with your winner announcement post by answering some congratulation notes once they start coming in. You ROCK. Thank you for your support. Tomas

7 World’s Continents Photo Challenge – European Thursday week #12 – winner announcement!


Well, YOU rock! Thank you for initiating this great photo challenge and for picking my photo!

Now this is a photo-post! I enjoyed every single line and photo of it dude, you did a great job here. Btw, I visited Cuba just 2 months ago and everything I saw there is still just as you described it, icnluding the Capitolio uder the scaffolds :D So sorry that my power is down to just one cent today, would love to give more :( Excellent job.


Haha that's just what I thought, Cuba will probably remain the same for a couple more years, especially with the Trump administration enforcing the embargo. And you don't need to be a whale for me to appreciate your upvote :D

Great shots!


Thank you :)

Great job! Those photos are beautiful. Well done.


Thank you, glad you like them!


The @OriginalWorks bot has determined this post by @jpphotography to be original material and upvoted(1.5%) it!


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wauw Cuba looks intresseting! nice pictures, thanks for sharing!


Cuba is a super interesting place!
I will post more high quality photo from my travels and will also do a Part 2 of my series on Cuba, so be sure to follow if you are interested!

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congrats on being selected as a winner!really lovely photo


Thank you! You can follow me for more travel photos if you like :)


Thank you my friend!

Great post. Looking forward to see more of your photography


Thanks! With this post getting so many positive reactions, I am definitely going to do a part 2 of my series on Cuba soon, stay tuned ;)

Thank you for these great shots and the story. I've never heard the ban explained so simply and clearly.


Thank you!

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I am visiting Cuba in few monts, so I really enjoyed your photos and notes! Thanks for sharing !


Enjoy your time in Cuba! Thanks for your comment :)

Thanks for sharing this. I'd love to visit Cuba. Especially to see the old style cars.


Yeah, the classic cars are totally cool! Pro tip: If you want to get a cheap ride in a classic car, change some money for Pesos Cubanos (the local currency opposed to the tourist-currency) and get a ride for a few Pesos (should cost no more than 10 Pesos/0,40 USD) in a taxi collectivo. A tourist taxi paid in the tourist-currency would set you back at least 20 USD, which is still a bargain for a ride in such a cool car :)