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Museo de la Revolution

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Havana museums are some of the best tourist attractions in Cuba, great places to visit and things to do on a vacation to the island. Of all the Havana museums, the Museo de la Revolution (Museum of the Revolution), is perhaps the most famous.

The Museo de la Revolution is housed in the former palace of dictator Fulgencio Batista, leader of Cuba in the years immediately preceding Fidel Castro’s rise to power and one of the most reviled figures in Cuban history under Castro’s regime. The presidential palace housed Cuba’s leaders from the 1920s until 1959. Despite its beautiful architecture (the interior was designed by Tiffany’s of New York), the building became associated with the corrupt dictators who controlled Cuba in the years before the revolution. Castro must have thought it fitting for this building to house a museum of the revolution that altered the course of Cuban history.

The Museo de la Revolution contains detailed exhibits tracing the events that led up to Castro gaining control of Cuba: the revolutionary war that he waged in the interior of the country and the urban insurrections that took place in Havana and other Cuban cities. There are more models of battles, period firearms, historic photos to satisfy even the most dedicated student of the history of Cuba, but among the effluvia of the revolution are some real gems: a life-size wax statue of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos and a huge revolutionary mural on the second floor, among other things.

Attached to the Museo de la Revolution, fully enclosed in glass, is perhaps the most famous boat in Cuban history, the Granma. In November 1956, Castro sailed from exile in Mexico to Cuba accompanied by Che and about eighty of revolutionaries. The landing was disastrous --- Batista’s troops killed almost all of Castro’s followers. The survivors headed to the mountains, where they soon attracted the support of local peasantry and began an ultimately successful guerrilla war.

Other historic artifacts in the Museo de la Revolution include military vehicles and weaponry from the failed U.S.-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion, a U-2 spy plane shot down during the Cuban missile crisis, and items from Cuba’s nineteenth-century wars of independence.

Located in old Havana, near many of the best Havana museums and hotels, the Museum of the Revolution is a must-see attraction on a Cuban vacation. Admission is about $5; the museum is open 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday.

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