This series of pictures capture the hidden beauty of Old Havana

Using the words of Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentie “Havana is the city of the unfinished, the defective, the unkempt …”, German-born photographer Bernhard Hartmann has found inspiration for his new book depicting the once-magnificent, along with the dilapidated, buildings of old Havana.

Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group

As Cuba opens its doors to the world, he takes us onto the streets to observe the cracked walls and crumbling plaster of the cafés and shops, the dilapidation of the old apartments and neighborhood streets, before taking us behind the façades, where some unique buildings still survive, concealing a dignity and charm that is reminiscent of their former bourgeois life.

An estimated 3,500 buildings in the city centre alone are in a state of disrepair – many have been abandoned or destroyed. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
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Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
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Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
Photos of Che Guevara are pervasive in many shops and public places. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
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Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
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La Catedral, old Havana. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
The entrance with marble staircase of La Guarida, probably Havana’s most famous paladar (restaurant). Such is its popularity, there are two strict sittings and booking is essential. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
The entrance with marble staircase of La Guarida, probably Havana’s most famous paladar (restaurant). Such is its popularity, there are two strict sittings and booking is essential. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
Teatro América on Galiano, one of Central Havana’s main commercial streets, is an art deco gem, its interior filled with original furniture. The theatre still stages vaudeville, variety, comedy, dance, jazz and salsa shows, usually at weekends. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
Teatro America on Galiano, one of Central Havana’s main commercial streets, is an art deco gem, its interior filled with original furniture. The theatre still stages vaudeville, variety, comedy, dance, jazz and salsa shows, usually at weekends. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
Gran Teatro. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
Gran Teatro. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
From the streets of Havana to the most remote rural areas, dominoes is played all over. Cubans’ passion for the game is one thing that is unlikely to change in the coming years. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
From the streets of Havana to the most remote rural areas, dominoes is played all over. Cubans’ passion for the game is one thing that is unlikely to change in the coming years. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
The residential neighbourhood of Vedado is known for its sumptuous mansions. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
The residential neighbourhood of Vedado is known for its sumptuous mansions. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group
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Much of old Havana is crumbling but this old pharmacy, founded in 1886, has been preserved beautifully and is now the Museo de la Farmacia Habanera Reunión, documenting the history of pharmacies in 19th and 20th century Havana. The building’s simple exterior gives little indication of the splendid interior with its curving mahogany shelves and stained glass. Photograph: Bernhard Hartmann/teNeues Publishing Group

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Source: TheGuardian, teNeues

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