The Hotel Nacional de Cuba, with 70 years of history, is regarded as a classic of tourism in the largest Antillean island, which has engaged in developing that industry since the 1990s.
Cuba`s flag hotel and a National Monument was declared Humankind`s Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1982.
In addition, the Hotel Nacional, a major lodging facility in Cuba`s tourist industry, is among the world`s ten Palace Hotels, and it is the only five-star hotel from the 1930s to the 1950s in the Caribbean.
Its privileged location makes it a silent witness of Havana
`s Malecón, which is bathed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and gives refuge to thousands of people - both Cuban
s and foreigners - who enjoy the fresh marine breeze during the island`s hot summer.
The hotel itself was built on history, since in the 18th century, that area housed the Santa Clara Battery, which formed part of the Cuban
capital`s defense system and of which some vestiges still remain for the enjoyment of visitors.
A painstaking restoration in the 1990s brought back details that had been lost with the passage of time, respecting the peculiarities of the building`s eclectic architecture, which includes art deco, Roman traditions and styles brought to Cuba by Spanish artisans during colonial times.
However, the hotel`s major attractiveness is the history inside its walls, silent witnesses during the past seven decades of visits by the most diverse personalities, from political leaders to artists, athletes and ill-famous bosses of the U.S. mafia
Many personalities of Mexican cinema, such as Mario Moreno (Cantinflas), Pedro Vargas, Tin Tan and the always beautiful María Félix, left their imprint in the hotel`s 457 rooms, including 15 suites and a presidential suite, and evidence of their stay can be seen today in a photographic exhibition at the `Gallery of the Gulf`.
Among the divas who once walked along the halls of the Hotel Nacional were Libertad Lamarque, Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner, as well as today`s stars such as super models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.
The still active presidential suite has welcomed political leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill
, then prime minister of Great Britain, the kings of Belgium and several heads of state who have visited the largest Antillean island.
An obliged point of reference for international tourism and show business until the 1950s, the Hotel Nacional also welcomed famous U.S. swimmer Johnny Weismuller, professional boxing legend Rocky Marciano and eminent scientists such as Alexander Fleming, who discovered the penicillin.
The creation of the `Corner of Cinema`, coinciding with the annual holding of Havana
`s International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, provides additional attractiveness to the majestic hotel, since it allows guests and visitors to enjoy major movies, along with a varied gastronomical offer.