Photo Essay: Vintage Fever at Plaza de Armas, Havana

Ok, so it’s time to focus on the kind of sights that drew me to visit Havana in the first place. Of course, I knew that the crumbling buildings in candy colours would appeal to my love of all things vintage, but one particular spot leapt out during my research: Plaza de Armas, a beautiful square lined with independent stalls selling all kinds of retro pieces, including a hefty amount of books. As a regular visitor to vintage fairs across the south of England, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to find my own piece of kitsch in Cuba.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Novel

The artwork on the cover of ‘Las Impuras’ caught my eye – this would make a great poster or print.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Ladies

Women in traditional dress (ready to pose for photos) walking across the Plaza de Armas.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Jewellery

Precious pieces of silver on one stall.

One thing to bear in mind when browsing is that tourists can’t take books out of the country if they were published earlier than 1940, so it’s best not to get your heart set on some of the older tomes. However, there are some really interesting books to pick up from the more recent past, and not just about Che or Fidel.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Che

Che Guevara is rather popular – pick your favourite out of these…

La Habana Plaza de Armas Cola

A little capitalist Coca Cola with your shopping, madam?

La Habana Plaza de Armas Records

Everything from the Beatles to Nat King Cole is available here.

Whilst you might be expecting to pay bargain basement prices, remember that goods just aren’t as disposable here in Cuba. If you have your eye on something really special, such as vintage jewellery, then it’s worth forking out a bit more, but be warned that some pieces made of precious metals or stones will be way out of the average tourist’s price range.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Watch and Beads

Looks like I found Bernard’s Watch in Havana.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Books

Books jostle for attention on the shelves.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Scenery

An empty looking expanse of the square.

Even if you don’t have any spare cash, the Plaza de Armas is a fascinating place to browse. It’s easy to find, too – just head down Obispo from Floridita (one of Hemingway’s favourite bars) or look for it to the left of the impressive fort that’s guarded the city for centuries.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Stall

Vintage photos, postcards and coins for sale.

La Habana Plaza de Armas Ricky

‘The True History of Ricky Martin’, anyone?

La Habana Plaza de Armas Arroz

First lesson of cookery: there are 221 ways to prepare rice.

I love seeing what counts for vintage in countries around the world, but Cuba was one of my favourites, for the range and quality of the stock. This market really is a treasure trove for lovers of all things retro.

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