Robaina's plantation

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Casa de Don Luis Chacón (Museo de Arte Colonial) Plaza de La Catedral, Habana Vieja

             If you come to Havana, a visit to the Plaza de La Catedral is a must. A national monument since 1976 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, besides the church that the Square is named after there's a whole lot more to see in and around the Plaza. The house/museum, one of the oldest residences in the Plaza, is one of the sites. La Bodeguita del Medio (where the mojito was invented) is just 50 meters outside the Plaza but there's a lot more going on if one cares to explore. The Casa de Don Luis Chacon or what it's known as today, Museo de Arte Colonial, is on the opposite side of the Plaza in relation to the church. This majestic structure was built as a residence in 1720 by the 'then' three-time Military Governor of Cuba, Don Luis Chacon, who had married off his daughter to the first count of Casa Bayona. The house is typical of the architecture of the time with two floors and a central courtyard.
              Since then it has gone through some transformations, like many of the other large colonial mansions. After having been a house of the rich, by the 19th century it was the property of the College of Notaries, later the newspaper "La Discusión", acquired by the commercial firm "Arechabala" for its offices and finally in the 1930's it housed the Havana Club Bar and used by Graham Greene as a setting for a scene in the movie 'Our Man in Havana'. In 1963 the National Commission for Museums and Monuments rescued it from further changes and by 1969 it was inaugurated the Museum of Colonial Art. Today it houses a permanent exhibition showing furniture, decorative arts, architectural elements, latches and blacksmith elements, windows, doors, stained glass windows and much more. It also has a room for temporary exhibits on the ground floor where at the time of my last visit they were showing an artist's ceramic works. In some rooms they've even recreated a setting (a sitting room, a bedroom) so tourists can imagine what life would have been like centuries ago in Havana. The furniture is from the 17th-19th centuries and may not have necessarily been in this particular house but was from somewhere in the city at some time.
               There isn't much more information on this house but if you make your way to this Plaza it's worth a visit. There is no cost to enter and it shouldn't take too long to walk through and take a few pictures....about 15-30 minutes depending on the individual.

Calle San Ignacio No. 61
e/ Empedrado y O’Reilly
Plaza de la Catedral, Habana Vieja
Phone: 862 6440/862 6468

Monday, 18 September 2017

Luis Enrique Camejo (Cuban Artist) Havana

                      I've been seeing this artist's paintings hanging on walls all over Havana for a few years now. His painting style is like sketching but using a paintbrush rather than pencils or crayons with the subjects being city landscapes or scenes rather than depictions of something that needs interpretation, great for someone like myself who knows nothing about art.
                      The prize winning artist was born in Pinar del Rio on January 19, 1971, today he works and lives in Havana near La Esquina de Tejas in Havana’s Cerro district. He went to the Pinar del Río School of Art from 1982-86 before attending the National Art School in Havana (1986-90) and graduated from the Superior Art Institute of Havana (ISA) in 1996. He taught at the Superior Art Institute of Havana since his graduation in 1996 up until 2007. He has had the good fortune of showing his works all over Europe, the Americas and Cuba, winning several prizes along the way. Luis sold his first painting in 1991.
                      There wasn't that much information on this artist but his works are unmistakably his as you can see scrolling down the paintings which I've posted. I don't know of any other artists that depict the same themes that Luis does. I like his body of work, or at least that of which I've seen, I hope you do as well.

Studio: Calle Infanta #1459 e/ Universidad y Estevez,
             Cerro, La Habana
Phone: +53 (5) 276-4485  +53 (7) 883-7880  +53 (5) 272-2172

Central Park New York 2014

Bicicletas 2010



Untitled 2009

From Series 'Malecon' (Cadenas) 2009

From Series 'Malecon' 2011

From Series 'Panama' 2009

Untitled 2009


Estudios Para China Walk 2011

Estudios Para China Walk 2011

Untitled 2010

Untitled 2010

Shenzhen 2011

Vol.XIII no.3 2011

Estudio Para Tsunami no.1 2007


Untitled 2015


Untitled 2010

Sunday, 17 September 2017

H.Upmann Factory (Havana)

                       The Hupmann brothers, Herman and August, were bankers and ship owners who after opening a branch of their bank in Havana in 1840 decided to get into the cigar business. They opened their first factory on Calle San Miguel #85 in 1844 but by 1874 with increasing demand they moved to Calle Cuba #64. The larger space wasn't enough and had to move once again by 1891 to a space that was famously known as "La Madama" on Calle Carlos III #159.
                        Through the years the H.Upmann brand received many accolades from exhibitions around the world winning gold medals from cities in Europe, Asia and North America. Their latest factory still wasn't enough and forced them to rent work space around the city to help with the production of the lesser brands that the company had acquired. A new factory was built in 1905 in the town of Calabazar 13 kilometers south of Havana on Calle Meyrelles #11. Between the two factories employing 1200 workers, it made them one of the largest producers of cigars in the country.
                        World War I was the beginning of the end of Hupmann family ownership of the company. Due to their ancestry being German, they were blacklisted and banking operations suspended until 1920. Eventually the banks and shipping company were closed and the cigar factories sold for well below market value. In 1922 the H.Upmann company along with all it's assets was bought by Frankau S.A., a British company, but sold to Menendez Garcia and Co. by 1936. Alonso Menendez and Jose Garcia, both of which were already in the cigar industry, had also registered Montecristo as a brand in 1935. There is some speculation as to how the was to be but once in the hands of Menendez and Garcia the Montecristo name had become world renowned. In 1944 they moved to Calle Amistad #407-409 behind the Partagas factory that was on Calle Industria in Centro Habana. Although there was a slight interruption after the revolution in 1960, production continued at this location until November 2003 after-which it moved to an old cigarette factory located on Calle 23 e/ 14 y 16 in the Vedado district.  
                   It's been several years now that the Upmann factory has been operating out of the Romeo Y Julieta factory on Calle Belascoaín #852 entre Peñalver y Desagüe, Centro Habana while (it's been said) the Vedado location is under renovation. It seems that not too long after they moved into the new place, about 10 years, they've had terrible floods from water coming in through the roof. Sadly, I never got to see the old place on Amistad but I've had the fortune of visiting the new location several times before the renovations and the current one at RyJ. I remember seeing some of the same faces I saw years ago on previous visits. One thing hasn't changed, the quality of the cigars coming out of this factory are still some of the best, especially their Piramides. The Upmann factory is know to be the best for rolling the Piramide Vitola and that's why it's the only factory other that El Laguito that's been given the task to roll the Cohiba Piramide Extra. Of course there are always plenty of Montecristo's still being rolled with H.Upmann being the original Montecristo factory.

Current Location
Calle Belascoaín #852 entre Peñalver y Desagüe,
Centro Habana

H.Upmann factory on Calle Amistad from 1944 to 2003

H.Upmann factory on Calle 23 in Vedado from 2003 to 2013

H.Upmann factory 'La Madama' from 1891 until their liquidation in 1922

Latest H.Upmann factory on Calle Belascoaín once the RyJ factory in Centro Habana

Entering latest H.Upmann factory on Calle Belascoaín

Moistening the Leaf once out of the bales


de-stemming process

Rolling Room

Colour Selection

Testing the Draw

Quality Control Room