Elevating the people key to revitalizing historic Havana
Our Cuban sponsor, the Office of the Historian of City of Havana (OHCH), was founded in 1938 as a history and culture preservation society.
Today, OHCH is a UNESCO-recognized humanitarian organization responsible for the architectural restoration and preservation of historic buildings and monuments. Havana has the most extensive inventory of Spanish colonial-era architecture outside of Spain.
OHCH has received numerous international awards for its achievements in rescuing ancient landmarks, and several World Heritage Sites. The success of the work of OHCH is studied by urban planners, architects, and sociologists in major cities on every continent. The essential ingredient in the accomplishments of OHCH is the direct participation of citizens in the planning and execution.
Empowerment fuels vitality. This humanitarian approach to urban renewal has resulted in hundreds of community-based resources benefiting thousands of Cubans in the historic district known as Old Havana. Collectively these socially-oriented facilities and services have come to define Old Havana, cement community spirit, spark civic engagement, and provide near full employment. These self-sustaining grassroots services include in part:
- Health clinics
- Daycare spaces
- Radio stations
- Trade schools
- Lifelong learning classes
- Retirement homes
- Centers for disabled people
- Places of worship
- Recycling efforts
- Farm-to-city produce outlets
- Art and crafts workshops
- Micro tourism initiatives
- Hundreds of small businesses
The innovative humanitarian practices of Havana’s Office of the Historian have spread across the island resulting in a collaborative network of Historian Offices and Curators of Heritage Cities. Currently, nine other historic cities coordinate restoration work with OHCH: Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Remedios, Sancti Spíritus, Camagüey, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Baracoa.
The integral relationship between OHCH, its travel arm San Cristóbal, and Cuba Explorer lends a humanitarian focus to all of the activities we share with visitors in Cuba. Employees of OHCH escort our guests. Our guides ensure travelers enjoy experiences reflecting the compassionate philosophy of OHCH.