El Capitolio, modeled after the U.S. Capitol, was built in the 1920s by an American firm. It’s an enormous landmark in Havana, but one that fell into disrepair after Fidel Castro moved his Revolutionary government in the 1960s. El Capitolio was seen as too Western, and too much a symbol of what his Communist revolution opposed. So it has sat, largely neglected in the middle of Havana.
When I visited Havana in 2010, I stayed at the Hotel Saratoga, which sits across the street from the Capitolio. It was on this visit that I took the photos that appear here. You can see in them the decay on the face of this architectural beauty. If you had asked me six years ago whether I thought this building would be renovated, let alone become the new seat of the Castro government, I would have said no.
Yet it’s happening. Raul Castro is moving the government there within the next three years, when renovations are complete. To get a sense of the scale and scope of the Capitolio really requires watching the report linked above.
I’m looking forward to returning to Havana in a few years and seeing it again. When Communists become passionate about historical conservation, something strange is happening.