Cuba Educational Travel: Art & Architecture

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Cuban Art and Architecture

Cuba’s art and architecture are a creative, unusual blend of influences from many cultures, including Africa, South America and Europe. Street art, the photography of Alberto Korda and the contemporary art of Amelia Pelaez and Wifredo Lam define both culture and artistic pursuit in Cuba. Unique, fanciful architectural gems include Colonial, Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco designs. The sheer diversity of styles makes Cuban art and architecture fascinating. Restrictions for legal travel to Cuba means you will want to plan your trip with ATI; our Cuban educational tours meet the needs of Cuba’s travel restrictions.

Legal Travel to Cuba

Travel to Cuba requires a full, pre-planned itinerary and a specific qualifying goal; Cuban educational tours with People-to-People travel opportunities qualify for this purpose. Trips must be approved by the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control with an application process. Our high-quality tours are an excellent way to experience the culture of Cuba while fulfilling authorization requirements and educational interests. Custom tours in Cuba will allow you to tour art schools, galleries, art studios and the many beautiful public art installations and unique architecture for which Cuba is known. ATI’s cultural tours to Cuba allow you to visit these fascinating destinations with an itinerary that will provide you with a broad overview of Cuban culture.

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Cuban Artists

Cuban artists are encouraged to work and explore their creativity, and the life of an artist can be a lucrative career in Cuba. Fanciful, colorful art is common in Havana and Trinidad. Street art is sold on the open market and through government-owned art galleries or private studios. Schools for fine arts education include the Instituto Superior de Artes and the San Alejandro Art Academy. Famous Cuban artists of the 20th century include the murals of Amelia Peláez, the modern primitivism of Wilfredo Lam, and the photography of Alberto Korda, who captured an iconic image of Che Guevara during the Cuban revolution. You will experience art’s role in Cuban culture during your custom tour to Cuba.

Artistic Influences

Contemporary Cuban artists are influenced by many contemporary styles including European, Native American and African cultural art. Because Spain controlled Cuba until 1898, historic Cuban art was directly influenced by Spanish styles, but that has largely changed in the past century. The Vanguardia movement of artists led to a style that broke from classic landscapes, focusing on illustrations of Cuban life with cubism and surrealism influenced by French art. However, the 1960s brought revolutionary restrictions, and artwork was censored by the Socialist party until 1980 when artists were allowed more creative freedom. This relatively new ability for freedom of expression has led to an explosion of unique art folk and fine art for your Cuban educational travel experience.

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Cuba’s Eclectic Architecture

Spanish-influenced styles blend seamlessly with Neoclassical, Baroque, Art Deco and Victorian architecture for whimsical yet elegant streetscapes. Spanish colonizers brought traditional designs to Cuba in the 16th century which include decorative tiles, fountains and porches to protect residents from tropical storms. Baroque architectural styles from France added ornate facades and interiors for a grand presence, especially in Old Havana, where plazas are surrounded by ornate buildings in colorful shades of pastel. French-influenced Neoclassical architecture can be found in Cuba as well, primarily in the city of Cienfuegos.

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Economic Influence on Architecture

In the early 20th century, Cuba’s economy soared due to the success of the sugar industry and Cuba’s many sugar plantations. Numerous new buildings were constructed during this time in an Art Deco style, including the elegant Edificio Bacardi, a former headquarters for Cuban rum, which is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Latin America. The rich plantation owners built opulent mansions, and Havana has many castle-like homes that originated during this period of time.


Trinidad is famous for its many museums, including history, art, architecture and archeology. This beautiful city is also known for its well-preserved Colonial buildings. The remains of sugar mills make Trinidad a fascinating city to experience the history of Cuba. In Havana, Ernest Hemingway’s country estate, Finca Vigía, is a museum as well. Many cultural influences make a unique destination for Cuban educational travel within the guidelines of Cuba’s travel restrictions.

People-to-People Travel to Cuba

ATI’s People-to-People travel packages offer fascinating cultural tours to Cuba, including direct flights to Havana from Miami. Legal travel to Cuba can be simple with our expertise and our well-planned, educational tours that focus on your art and architectural interests. You can choose from our customized itineraries for Havana’s Art and Architecture, or select from our People-to-People travel packages to include many destinations throughout Cuba with a focus on art, history, architecture, music and other cultural destinations.