Behind the statue of José Martí, the stately ground floor of the memorial tower houses the exhaustive Museo José Martí, which charts Martí’s career mainly through letters and photographs. The lavish entrance hall, its walls bedecked with Venetian mosaic tiles interspersed with Martí’s most evocative quotes, certainly befits a national hero and is the most impressive aspect of a museum that tends to stray off the point at times. The most eye-catching exhibit is close to the entrance to the first room: a replica of Simón Bolívar’s diamond-studded sword, which was given to Fidel Castro by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2000.
The second room holds photographs of Martí in Spain, Mexico and North America along with an assortment of artillery, most notably Martí’s six-shooter Colt revolver engraved with his name, and the Winchester he took with him into his only battle. A temporary exhibition space in the fourth room showcases work by local artists, while music peñas with local crooners singing boleros and the like take place in a small function room on the first and third Saturday of the month.
The lookout point
When you’ve finished in the museum, take the lift to the top floor and the highest lookout point in Havana – on a clear day you can see the low hills in the east and out as far as Miramar in the west. The room is divided into segments corresponding to the five spines of its star shape, so you can move around to take in five separate views.