2009 Events‎ > ‎

2009 Tour


22 - 28 MARCH 2009

The Norwegian chapter of C.E.U. - Council for European Urbanism invites you to join a one week tour of three UNESCO world heritage cities: Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.


The one week Tour March 22-28 will include an introduction to the history of Urbanism and Architecture of Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, all of them listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It will involve insights of the regeneration of Old Havana and one day tours by bus to two smaller historic towns, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.

Our expert guide will be Prof. Julio Cesar Perez who has been a speaker at several INTBAU and C.E.U. conferences. A Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2001-2002 and Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture in Havana he  has lectured widely in the US and Europe about Cuban architecture. He is also the author of the major book INSIDE CUBA published by Taschen in 2006.

Who is it for: Architects, planners, art historians, antiquarians, writers, students and others with an interest in the history of Cuban architecture, urbanism and culture.

Above: Typical street in Trinidad. Photo: Claus Zapffe



The tour shedule below is similar to our 2008 tour. Subject to changes.

Day 0 – Saturday 21. March

Arrival in Havana. Accommodation.

Day 1 – Sunday 22. March

Morning. 9.30 am- 1.00 pm
WALKING Tour of Old Havana by Prof. Julio César Pérez and potentially Dr. Professor Architect Orestes del Castillo (Office of the Historian). Visit the 4 oldest squares of Old Havana and the most representative colonial buildings:

  • Plaza de Armas, XVI century with Royal Force Castle by Sánchez and Calona (1558- 1577), the Palacio del Segundo Cabo or Royal Post Office (1770- 1791), the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (1776- 1791) by Antonio Fernández Trevejos and Pedro de Medina; the beautiful Santa Isabel hotel- where US President James Carter was lodged when he visited Cuba in 2002- the former residence of Count of Santovenia from 1784 and El Templete from 1828 by Antonio M. de la Torre.

  • Plaza de San Francisco de Asís from 1628 with the baroque Church and Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi from 1735 and the 1908 Stock Exchange of Havana by Tomás Mur built by the famous US company Purdy and Henderson in a record time of only 16 months; the Custom House of Havana by Barclay, Parsons and Klapp from 1914.

  • Plaza Vieja where the restoration process is best explained with a stop at a special corner restaurant which is the museum of beer in Havana. Visit to the 1735 Casa de Condes de Jaruco with the most beautiful stained glass windows in Havana and walls with the original fiezes and a wonderful courtyard.

  • Plaza de la Catedral. Visit the Casa de Condes de Bayona from 1725- currently the Museum of Colonial Art of Cuba- and the Casa del Marqués de Arcos, Casa del Conde de Lombillo and Casa del Marqués de Aguas Claras, all from XVIII Century and the Cathedral, the greatest example of Cuban Baroque from 1777.

Lunch suggestion: 1.00- 2.30 pm
Café del Oriente at Plaza San Francisco.

Afternoon. 2.30 pm- 4.00 pm.  
FREE, Siesta,
EastHavanaBeaches, etc.

Evening suggestions:
Live Jazz Music at “La Zorra y El Cuervo” Nightclub in La Rampa, El Vedado.
Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor on the hottest place in town where youngsters hang out. Watching the old traditional ceremony of the 9.00 o’ clock canyon shooting at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña across the bay. El Gato Tuerto bar.

Dinner suggestion:
La Torre restaurant on top of FOCSA Building in El Vedado, overlooking the city and the sea.

Day 2 – Monday 23. March 

Morning  9.30 am- 1.00 pm.
WALKING Tour of The Walls District (XIX century/ early XX century) by Prof. Julio César Pérez.

  • Visit The Parque Central of Havana where the 1879 England hotel is, the Neo- Moorish 1908 Seville Hotel, the 1914 Casino Español, the 1915 Great Theater of Havana by Belgian architect Paul Belau who also designed the former Presidential Palace in 1920- currently the Museum of the Revolution; the 1925 Centro Asturiano designed by Spanish Architect Manuel del Busto- currently the Fine Arts Museum.

  • Walk along the world wide famous1929 promenade El Paseo del Prado, inspired in the elevated plaza concept and considered one of the best open spaces in the world by French Landscape designer J.C. N. Forestier who also designed the nearby Park of Fraternity and Avenida del Puerto (Harbor Avenue) and also the 1929 Capitolio gardens.

  • Visit the former home of President José Miguel Gómez from 1915 designed by Cuban architect Hilario del Castillo.

  • Visit the former Bacardi Headquarters Building from 1930 (the Jewel of Art Déco).

Lunch suggestion: 12.30- 2.00 pm
Prado y Neptuno Italian Restaurant across Parque Central, designed in 1999 by Italian architect Roberto Gottardi, author of the Drama School at the Schools of Art Campus.

Afternoon 2.30- 4.00 pm.
WALKING Tour of El Vedado district led by Prof. Julio César Pérez

  • Visit the City Garden of El Vedado- planned in 1859-60 but not developed until early in the XX century- according to modern planning principles that introduced the green in the city for the first time.

  • Visit the 1906- 40 Universtity of Havana Campus, the 1926 Dolce Dimora mansion designed by Cuban architects Govantes and Cabarrocas, currently the Napoleon’s Museum, La Rampa district, the very heart of modern Havana where the famous 1966 Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor is and the1950s hotels, apartments, cinemas, restaurants and shops are.

  • Visit the 1930 National Hotel designed by US architects McKim, Mead & White designated best hotel all over the world in 2006.

Optional drinks at the Hotel Nacional gardens and terraces.

Dinner suggestion:
Paladar de Adela in El Vedado or at the National Hotel.

Late evening suggestions:
Discotech at the Havana Café of the Melia Cohiba Hotel or Nightclub at the Riviera Hotel or Jazz café at Galerias Paseo.

Day 3 – Tuesday 24. March

Morning 9:30 - 1:00 pm.
BUS Tour of West Havana. The suburbs, the new hotels.

  • Visit the Miramar District (planned in the early XX century) and the big city model at the Group for Integral Development of the Capital.

  • Learn from the bus about important landmarks as the 1980 Soviet Embassy- tallest building in Miramar- and the Miramar Trade Center office park and the new hotels area.

  • Lectures and meetings with key people who will talk about current development, opportunities and challenges for the near future of the city of Havana and will answer questions from the participants.

Lunch suggestion: 1.30- 2.30 pm
Paladar VistaMAr, a 1950s architect’s  home by the sea, in Miramar.

Afternoon 2.30- 5.00 pm.
From the bus see the westernmost suburbs inspired by the City beautiful movement from Frederick Law Olmstead with isolated villas in ample lots with huge gardens and eclectic and modern houses.
On the way back, drive along the tree- lined avenues of Paseo and G Street (Avenue of the Presidents) and visit the 1927 Florentine style Baró- Lasa mansion designed by Cuban architects Govantes and Cabarrocas with Art Déco interiors by French designer René Lalique and the 1957 Riviera Hotel originally designed by Philip Johnson and formerly owned by mobster Meyer Lansky. 

Evening suggestion:
Dinner at Paladar La Cocina de Lilian in Playa district.

Day 4 Wednesday 25. March

Morning 8:30- 11:30 am.
Trip from Havana to Cienfuegos. Accomodation.

Lunch suggestion: 1.00- 2.30 pm
Palacio del Valle Restaurant by the sea.

Afternoon 2.30- 5.00 pm.
WALKING Tour of the Historic Center of Cienfuegos by Julio César Pérez and possibly Historiador Architect Irán Millán.
Main square and XIX century Townhall, Terry Theater, Catholic Church, Row houses with cafes and shops.

Dinner suggestion:
Cienfuegos Yatch Club by the sea.

Overnight in Cienfuegos.

Day 5 – Thursday 26. March

Morning 9.00- 10.30 am
Trip from Cienfuegos to
Trinidad. Accomodation.

Lunch suggestion:
Local restaurant

Afternoon 2.30-  5.00 pm.
Walking tour of the center of the city led by
Julio César Pérez and possibly Historiador Nancy Gonzalez. 
Plaza Mayor, Catholic Church, Palacio Cantero, Palacio Brunet, Regidor Ortiz, Casa del Cocodrilo, etc.

Evening suggestion: 5.00 pm.
At the beach. Dinner at a restaurant by the sea.

Late evening suggestion:
Casa de la trova. Cuban music and dancing.

Overnight in Trinidad.

Day 6 – Friday 27. March

Morning 9.00- 10.30 am
Trip to the Sugar Mills Valley in Trinidad outskirts. Visit Hacienda Iznaga and Tower Iznaga on the way back to Havana.

Lunch suggestion
Cienfuegos Yacht Club by the sea.

Afternoon 2.00- 6.00 pm
Return Trip to Havana

Evening suggestions:
Salsa Music at Casa de la Música in Miramar, Music at Hotel Riviera or at Hotel Nacional with Buena Vista Social Club members.

Day 7 – Saturday 28. March

"Day on your own" in Havana. Optional departure in the afternoon.


Some of the Cuban practitioners we will meet

Orestes del Castillo:
Mr. del Castillo is an expert in the restoration and structural repairs of old buildings. He has recently retired from his position at the Office of the Historador of Havana, where he for many years has been working closely with the Historador Eusebio Leal Spengler himself, who is in charge of the restoration of Old Havana. Mr. del Castillo is a professor at the Havana School of Architrecture and he has been awarded the National Award of Architecture. He has lectured widely in both the U.S. and in Europe.

Raúl González Romero
Mr. Romero is an architect, expert in hotels and one of the advisors of the Minister of Construction of Cuba. Mr. Romero is a professor at the Havana School of Architrecture and he has been awarded the National Award of Architecture. He has lectured widely in Europe.

Mario Coyula.
Mr. Coyula is the former Director of Havana´s Planning Agency known as Grupo para el Desarrollo de la Capital. He is the former Director of the School of Architecture and the former editor of Arquitectura Cuba magazine. Mr. Coyula is a professor at the Havana School of Architrecture and he has been awarded the National Award of Architecture He has taught in MIT, Harvard and has lectured widely in USA and Europe.

We will also try our best to arrange a meeting with the Historiador of Havana: Eusebio Leal Spengler. But we cannot promise that we will manage to set up such a meeting, alternatively we will meet other key staff at the Historador office such as Mr. del Castillo.
Cienfuegos and Trinidad

We will also meet several people involved with restoration / preservation / heritage / and urban development in the other cities we visit. In Cienfuegos we will meet the Historiador and Head Architect of the town Mr. Irán Millán, and in Trinidad we will meet the Historiador and Head Architect of the town Mr. Nancy González.

Above: Typical street in Cienfuegos. Photo: Claus Zapffe


The cost of the tour programme is estimated at 1000 CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) for participants choosing to stay at Casa Particular (see under "Accomodation" below). This is a preliminary price estimate subject to changes in currency rates and our local costs on Cuba. The CUC is per Sring 2008 pegged in a relationship of 1 to 1,08 to the American Dollar, so 1000 CUC equals 1080 $. For two persons sharing a room the individual tour price is 900 CUC for the Casa Particular option. We can arrange accomodation for additional nights in Havanna if you arrive early or stay on (single or double occupancy).

The fee includes seven nights accomodation in Casa Particular (rooms for rent in private appartments), bus tour in Havana, bus tour to Cienfuegos and Trinidad, and expert guiding by Prof. Julio Cesar Perez and local experts in some of the locations we visit. The fee does not include international travel to and from Havana, and does not include any meals. 

You can also choose to stay in a luxury hotel in Havana, against a surcharge. The price for the tour with hotel is 1500 CUC (single room) or 1400 CUC (double room, per person). This includes five nights in hotel in Havana, one night in hotel in Trinidad, and one night in Casa Particular in Cienfuegos. 

The participants are asked to arrange for their own travel to and from Havana. We are not a tour operator, but can mention the following airlines servicing Cuba from Europe: Air France, British Airways, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic (from London). To find the best rates we recommend a search on Kelkoo. If participants wish to stay longer on Cuba they are welcome to do so.

Meals will be both collective and on an individual basis, but all meals will have to be paid locally by the individual participant. A few ATMs can be found in Havana. But ATM's are rare and expensive, and no cards issued by an American bank or it's subsidaries will be accepted. So it is strongly advised that you rely on cash for the trip. Euros, Pounds and Dollars are accepted in any currency change shop, although Dollars will be subject to a 10% tax when exchanged.


Casa Particular is a uniquely Cuban form of accomodation, and is highly recommended for those who want to have a more personal experience during their trip. Most rooms are in appartment buildings from the 1950s in the El Vedado area of Havana, just a few blocks from Hotel Nacional where we can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, pool, gym, or simply drinks at any time. Many of the rooms have air condition, and each appartment has common areas such as living and dining rooms that are shared with the Cuba family living in appartment. If you want, the Cuban family will provide you with breakfast and other meals (against a small surcharge). All guests will have single rooms unless otherwise specified. Some bathrooms might be shared with other guests. The buildings are just 5 minutes away from the Malecón. We will stay in the same area as during our last two trips, the location has proven as a superb starting point for exploring Havana. The Casa Particular is included in our price offer.

Alternative hotel accomodation: If you prefer international style and do not want to stay with a Cuban family, we can offer you alternative hotel accomodation in walking distance from our Casa Particulars, against a surcharge. We offer in our hotel option accommodation at the famous Hotel Nacional, one of the historical landmark buildings in Havana. It is located at the waterfront in a garden setting. Subject to availability of rooms. Hotel website: www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com.

We will stay in private homes (Casa Particular). Not all the group will be accomodated in the same are due to the character of the city. We will split the group in two neighbourhoods, most of our guests will stay in old colonial houses close to the city centre while others will stay outside of the city centre in early modernist bungalows close to the sea. In most cases the rooms will have air condition, private bathrooms, etc., but standards may vary since we will live in private homes. 

Alternative hotel accomodation: If you prefer international style and do not want to stay with a Cuban family, we can offer you alternative hotel accomodation in Cienfuegos, against a surcharge. We offer in our hotel option accommodation at the Hotel La Union, located in the historical center of the town. Subject to availability of rooms. Hotel website: www.hotellaunion.com.

We will stay in private homes (Casa Particular). This gives a unique insight into Cuban life and the opportunity to make some new friends. Some of the houses have truly spectacular interiors from the hight of the colonial time in Cuba, a true experience. In Trinidad we do not offer a hotel alternative, as the hotels are located far outside of the city centre.


You will need a visa for visiting Cuba, please contact your local Cuban embassy. A tourist visa should be the simplest one to obtain. New regulations require you to provide the address and registration number of our Casa Particular when applying for a visa. We will provide you with this information in due time.

US Participants

We have had American participants on both our tour and workshop in 2007 and 2008. But due to the American trade embargo, American citizens wanting to travel to Cuba will need to travel under either a general or a specific license. Please see the following website at the United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control. Each participant is for himself responsible to decide whether the conditions of the general license applies to him, as the penalties for breaking the embargo are quite serious. Please e-mail Claus Zapffe or contact the travel agent below if you are in doubt.

Travel agents that have been recommended by some of our previous American participants:
If you are uncertain about whether or not you fall under the General License category, you may contact the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York (Phone: 212-614-6464; Fax: 212-614-6499; Email: ccr@igc.apc.org ), for free legal advice on travel regulations.

One of our previous participant from the US has been to Cuba many times. He writes: "You asked me to write you about paperwork needed for permission to travel to Cuba. I'm a registered architect practicing in the US, and I teach studios and courses at a US architecture school. I have been working together with a professor on Cuba for 8 years now.

When I travel to Cuba, I go under the Treasury Department's general license. The general license authorizes travel for 'Full time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to professional research in their professional areas, provoded that their research 1)is of a noncommercial, academic nature; 2)comprisesa a full work schedule in Cuba' and 3) has a substantial likelihood of public dissemination.'

As part of my preparation, I create a calendar of the work I intend to do each day, and I set specific goals for myself as to the particular parts of Cuban architecture and culture I intend to study. In the case of the charrette conducted by Audun, Claus, and Julio Cesar, the schedule of work is clearly mapped out. I can assure you there's not a lot of spare time for those days. As for your independent study before the Charrette starts, I suggest you put your goals for the districts or buildings you wish to study in a list, and then keep some notes about your observations. Should you get any questions when either leaving or entering the U.S. as part of the trip, you'll have your record to share."



For registration for the tour, or if you have any more questions, please e-mail Claus Zapffe.

Following the tour, we arrange a Charette in Havana March 2009. You are welcome to join either the tour or the charrette, or both. For a detailed programme and more information on the charette we had in Havana in 2008 please click here: 2008 Charrette programme

The Organizers

The tour is organised by C.E.U. Norway - Council of European Urbanism, in collaboration with Moderno AS. We have a strong history of organising similar events in other countries, including Norway, Germany, the UK, Romania and Italy.

Prof. Julio César Pérez Hernández   CV
Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2001-2002 and adjunct professor at the School of Architecture in Havana (1998-2006), has lectured widely in the US, Canada and Europe about Cuban architecture. He is a member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and the recipient of several international and national awards. His writings have been published in the New York Times, Arquitectura Cuba and Arquitectura y Urbanismo.
Julio Cesar Perez is the author of a major new book on Cuban architecture and culture, "Inside Cuba", published byTaschen. He is the President of the Cuban Chapter of the C.E.U. and the author of "A Master plan for 21st century Havana".

Audun Engh  
Oslo, Norway. Education in law, project manager for the Norwegian Foundation for Urban Renewal, an INTBAU (International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism) partner organization. Member of the INTBAU Management Committee. Board member of CEU - Council for European Urbanism. Management Group Member of ESUA - European School of Urbanism and Architecture.

M.Arch. Claus Zapffe   CV
Oslo, Norway. Consulting architect with own practice, Moderno AS. Management Group Member of ESUA - European School of Urbanism and Architecture. Board member of INTBAU Scandinavia.

UK Partner Organisation

Our previous events on Cuba:

2008 Tour programme

2007 Charrette programme


More info on Havana

Havana described by Wikipedia


More info on Trinidad

Trinidad described by  Wikipedia

Trinidad described by a travel agency


More info on Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos described by Wikipedia

Cienfuegos described by a travel agency

Cienfuegos described by Cuba-Junky


International supporting organizations:

 The Academy of Urbanism

C.E.U. Norwegian Chapter - Council for European Urbanism

ESUA - European School of Urbanism and Architecture

Moderno AS - architecture and design

INTBAU Scandinavia - International Network for Building, Architecture and Urbanism

Folkeuniversitetet Fjellregionen - Norwegian Association for Adult Learning

Stiftelsen Byens Fornyelse - Foundation for Urban Renewal


The tour and charrette are private initiatives offering friends and collegues an academic programme on Cuba. We are not a tour operator. Each participant has to arrange for his / her own travel to Cuba, travels on his / her own risk, and is advised to arrange his / her own insurances.

U.S. participants:
The C.E.U. Tour and C.E.U. Charrette in Cuba are professional meetings / conferences, and are intended only for full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to attendance at the Tour and Charrette. The Tour and Charrette are organized by C.E.U. Norway, an international professional organization that regularly sponsors such meetings or conferences in other countries. Neither C.E.U. Norway nor the international C.E.U. network is headquartered in the United States, nor are any of the institutions, associations or organisations associated with the Tour and the Charrette. The purpose of the Tour and the Charrette is not the promotion of tourism in Cuba nor other commercial activities involving Cuba, nor to foster production of any bio-technological products.