Cienfuegos is a city in Cuba with a rich a vibrant past – t’s centre is an UNESCO World Heritage Site undergoing rejuvenation to meet the floods of tour buses. The crowds are descending daily to admire the powder blue and crisp white french neo-classical buildings, unique in splendor and scale within the Caribbean and Latin America. But it’s the southern neighborhood of Punta Gorda which got me excited – 15 minutes away from the heart of the city and down the wind-swept and palm tree-lined malecon, it’s a unique ecosystem of 1940s & 50s architecture epitomizes the excesses which catalyzed the country into the revolution.
Mid-century modern lines and bright pastel exteriors make Punta Gorda feel like you have arrived in a cartoon version of palm springs. Home to the rich and elite before the revolution (and arguably, throughout), the houses here are free-standing with driveways and verandas, much different from the typical townhouses in many of the city neighborhoods throughout the country. The most opulent buildings are now state ran hotels, while the more modest households host independent travelers as Casa Particulars.
At the south of the neighbourhood are examples of two architectural styles at different end of the spectrum – the mid-century modern El Covadonga and the mock-Moorish Palacio de Valle. However, while they’re pretty to look at, neither is known for great food – so if you fancy a bite circle back round on the shore side road of Calle 35 and try either Club Cienfuegos or Finca Del Mar.