As I’ve dozens (understatement) of photographs of buildings from my Cuban adventure it seems fitting to begin with architecture, and it fits with my plan of working through the alphabet. Trouble is that whilst I can recognise a number of English (and Italian) styles, I haven’t really got a clue about the development of building styles in Spain and the Caribbean.
It turns out though, that applying a little common sense gets you a long way.
Claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain in 1492, the island remained a Spanish colony until the Revolution over 450 years later. Consequently I found myself mentally labelling buildings as Spanish Colonial, and it turns out that there is such a style, characterized by a need to build relatively simple and solid buildings in far flung outposts but with a lot of baroque curls and swirls thrown in. Classical columns and capitals abound.
The history of Spain of course includes a Moorish invasion that lasted for centuries, so there is evidence of those influences too. Not quite Venetian Gothic, but the impact of experience beyond the Classical world is clear.
And then in complete contrast are the constructions of the last century, where Art Deco, Eclectic and Modernist buildings spring up throughout the city.
There’s something that unites all of the styles though. The application of paint. So many buildings have been transformed by the use of colour and not always for the better. Some of these structures were doubtless always intended to be shine brightly under the Cuban sun. Some must be cringing with embarrassment under their layers of pigment.