Flocks of people come in groups making a lot of noise; others come alone in a quiet pensive mood. Everyone gets in line. Havana is celebrating its 491 birthday and besides a diverse cultural program, the celebration includes a ritual that dates back as far as the cobblestone streets.
The tree was highly revered by the natives who attributed it with magical-religious powers. People say that both the first religious ceremony and first town council meeting took place under its shade.
The custom has
Conqueror Diego Velázquez founded
The final establishment, commemorated by El Templete, was the sixth town founded by the Spanish on the island, called San Cristóbal de la Habana, the name combines San Cristóbal, Havana’s Patron Saint, and Habana, of obscure origin, possibly derived from Habaguanex, an Indian chief who controlled that area, as mentioned by Diego Velasquez in his report to the king of Spain.
Since the incident, the Spanish brought soldiers and started building fortresses and walls to protect the city. The Castle of la Real Fuerza was the first fortress built; started in 1558, the construction was supervised by engineer Bartolomé Sanchez.
On the XVII century, Old Havana received two Royal Graces, when being declared Key of the New World and Safeguard of the Western Indies in 1634 by Royal Decree, and in 1665, when it was granted the right to use its own shield, including tree small towers, representing the Castle of La Real Fuerza, Morro and La Punta) that then defended the city.
The Cuban government has undertaken enormous efforts to preserve and to restore Old