Havana features among the 14 finalists on the list of the NewWonders of the World Cities contest, the winner of which will be selected by millions of citizens from around the world.
The Cuban capital, which combines colonial and modern architectural values with the scent of a sea breeze, Caribbean music and lively residents, is now in the last stage of the competition organized by Switzerland’s New7Wonders Foundation. In 2007, this organization implemented a voting system on the internet to select the new 7 Wonders of the World, an initiative that has broadly appealed to people from all over the world who post their votes on the foundation’s website.
The first was a project to nominate Seven New Wonders of the World and in 2011 a further contest was held to choose an equal number of natural wonders. The current online voting process to select the seven wonder cities opened in 2012, with over 1200 nominations from almost 220 countries. On October 7, 2013 this list was reduced to 300 candidates.
That figure was later cut to 28 cities, then to 21, and now to 14 finalists, all of which, according to Bernard Weber, founder and president of the New7Wonders Foundation, stand out for their diversity in terms of regional geography and urban culture.
The other cities included on the shortlist are Barcelona (Spain), Beirut (Lebanon), Chicago (United States), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia), London (United Kingdom), Mexico City, Perth (Australia), Quito (Ecuador), Reykjavik (Iceland), and Vigan (Philippines).
“Beautiful city, beautiful people,” “Where history and spontaneity go hand in hand,” “Havana is one of the world’s most beautiful cities”, are some of the reviews posted by internet users on the voting site. They thus recognize the magnetism of a city with more than two million inhabitants and that even though it will be 495 years on Nov 16 still captivates visitors for its well-preserved colonial ambiance in the La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) district.
This historic area of the city, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, is perhaps its main attraction. Havana, one of Cuba ́s main tourist destinations, also features luxury hotels, comfortable cheap hotels, and famous nightclubs, many of which have been recognized by important institutions like Tripadvisor, the world’s largest online travel site for travel recommendations.
Walking through the city, visitors can admire palaces, colonial mansions, plazas, cobblestone streets, churches, old and
imposing fortresses, and old walls that not only captivate foreigners but enjoy the love of locals. A place worth visiting, the National Capitol, a majestic building that dates from 1929, has become an architectural symbol and the image that represents Havana on the website www.new7wonders.com .
When the contest closes on December 7, Havana could be one of the seven wonder cities of the world. So far, it is proud to rank among the top 14 cities in the contest.
By Martha Andres, The Havana Reporter, Year IV, No. 18
November 1, 2014