Havana’s Art Deco jewel, known as Edificio Bacardí, explodes with bright color, geometric detail and stunning terracotta relief. Commissioned by Enrique Schueg during the Prohibition years, the building was completed in 1930 under the direction of principal architect Esteban Rodríguez Castells.
Located on the west side of the city on Avenida de Bélgica No. 261, the building recalls a stunning sunset with red Bavarian granite, inlaid brass, and gold panels. Art Deco motifs, such as complex geometric patterns and flower reliefs, embellish the façade as well as the interior, and the Bacardi bat symbol can be found throughout, including on light shades on the mezzanine floor. Glazed terracotta reliefs of female figures by American artist Maxfield Parrish grace the upper facade. Ceramic flagstones on one of the floors alternate white and bright yellow to symbolize Bacardi’s famous white and gold rums.
When it opened, the 12-story building was the tallest in Havana. The ziggurat-inspired bell tower topped by a bronze figure of Bacardi’s iconic bat symbol overlooks breathtaking 360° views of the city. A sumptuous black and gold bar on an upper floor served as an exclusive and highly sought venue for sipping mojitos, daiquiris, and Cuba libres. Celebrities and influential tourists once hobnobbed with other guests of the Bacardí family in this luxurious bar, all while marveling over the building’s elegant appointments of etched glass, gold leaf, and inlaid marble.
After the Cuban Revolution in 1960, Bacardi was exiled from Cuba and had to leave the exquisite Edificio Bacardí behind. The skyscraper was used as an office building for many years, but slowly fell into disrepair. In the 1990s, renovations began through the Office of the City Historian of Havana, and were completed in 2003. Today, visitors can once again enjoy restored brushed and polished brass, mural paintings, rich wood paneling, and an elevator engraved with a rising sun.