El Capitolio (The Capitol Building), Havana

El Capitolio (The Capitol Building), Havana (must see)

El Capitolio, or the National Capital Building, is one of the most visited and photographed buildings in Havana. It was completed in 1929 under the Gerardo Machado administration. El Capitolio is located in the exact center of Havana. The Congress convened here until the 1959 Cuban Revolution. After that, the building fell into disrepair. In 2013, the government began repairs to restore the building.

El Capitolio is very similar to the U.S. Capitol, but El Capitolio is one meter higher, longer, and wider. The cupola, or dome, was inspired by the French Pantheon. At 92 meters (302 feet) high, El Capitolio's dome was the third-highest dome in the world when it was built.

There are 56 steps up to the main entrance. The steps are flanked by two six and a half meter (21 foot) tall statues. After climbing the steps, visitors will be greeted by twelve 14-meter (46-foot) tall columns decorating the central portico. The entrance has three large bronze doors with detailed bas relief plates. Entering the main hall, visitors will find the Statue of the Republic. At 15 meters (49 feet) tall, this gold-plated statue is the third tallest indoor statue in the world.

The exact center of Havana is marked with a replica diamond. The original 25-carat diamond was stolen in 1946. After it was recovered, the original diamond did not return to public display.

The formal gardens surrounding El Capitolio were designed by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, who designed the park next to the Eiffel Tour in Paris.

Why You Should Visit

It's impossible to visit Havana without a visit to El Capitolio. The building dominates the landscape. As it is the center of Havana, locals give directions based on distances from El Capitolio. Visiting El Capitolio will orient you to the rest of the city. Admire the beautiful architecture and learn more about Cuba's history.

Tips

Visit in the day to admire the details and take a tour of the interior in Spanish or English. Return at night to admire El Capitolio stunningly lit up.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Thu-Sat: 10am-4pm; Wed, Sun: 10am-12pm
Guided tours are on the hour and last one hour

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Havana. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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El Capitolio (The Capitol Building) on Map

Sight Name: El Capitolio (The Capitol Building)
Sight Location: Havana, Cuba (See walking tours in Havana)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Havana, Cuba

Create Your Own Walk in Havana

Create Your Own Walk in Havana

Creating your own self-guided walk in Havana is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

The Spanish founded Havana in 1519. After French pirate Jacques de Sores ransacked the city in 1555, the Castle of the Royal Force was built to protect the city.

Havana became a major stopping point between the newly discovered Americas and ancient Europe. In the 1600s, Havana was a major shipbuilding port.

Old Havana is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic city has five...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Hemingway's Havana Walking Tour

Hemingway's Havana Walking Tour

Ever since Hemingway first visited Cuba in 1928 until his death in 1961, he felt an intense connection with the people and culture of Cuba. Hemingway lived at Hotel Ambos Mundos during the 1930s, and began, wrote, and finished several novels there. Today, you can see some of Hemingway's belongings in Room 511.

Hemingway was a frequent patron at El Floridita, famous for its daiquiris....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles
Historical Churches and Cathedrals Walking Tour

Historical Churches and Cathedrals Walking Tour

Discovered and conquered by Spanish colonists in the early 16th century, Havana has turned into a major religious center of Catholicism in the Caribbean. Although a communist regime is currently in power, many of the churches, cathedrals, and other religious buildings have been preserved and still give a glimpse of the city’s religious heritage.

The old Havana Cathedral, located in a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Old Palaces Walking Tour

Old Palaces Walking Tour

Havana has been the seat of Cuba’s ruling gentry for centuries. Today, you can walk the streets of Old Havana and explore its palaces to get a glimpse into the city’s royal past. Although these structures now serve Havana’s citizens and visitors, they still catch your eye (and your camera lens!) with their architecture and history.

Start your trip with the ornate Presidential Palace,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles

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