Built during Cuba’s highest economic peak, the Capitolio was, by far, the most expensive building in Cuba. One of its many rooms held a diamond that belonged to the last Russian Zar but it was lost after the revolution and its whereabouts are still unknown. It is said that this diamond was used as the reference point (0 km mark) from which all highways would depart.

Its design was heavily inspired by the Paris Pantheon, St Paul’s Cathedral in Its design was heavily inspired by the Paris Pantheon, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and the US Capitol. Still today, even though each of the designs are very similar, Cubans proudly remark that the Capitol’s cupola is taller than its US counterpart. As a result of a severed relationship between both countries in the 50’s and the end of Batista’s dictatorship, Castro refused to maintain the monument nor did he want to give it significance.

El Capitolio in La Habana is the equivalent to a Ferrari in the garage of a falling down house that has been abandoned for over 60 years. It was built with what was thought of as “infinite sugar money” under a “democratic” dictatorship. Sugar was exported primarily to the US prior to the embargo, providing the government and private companies with endless finances. The idea was to continue investing money in the city at the same luxurious tune. However, the Revolution came. 

Recently, Russia has given Cuba financial support to revive the Capitol with the intention of making it useful for Parliament.

The Capitol at the end of a busy Habana vieja street.

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