The resplendent El Capitolio standing solemnly in Centro Habana is one of most iconic buildings in the country. Inspired by the Capitol in Washington D.C., the Cuban counterpart is slightly taller. Built by the Machado government in 1920s, it originally housed Cuba’s Congress. After the revolution it was deemed a symbol of bourgeois decadence and American imperialism; Congress was dissolved and the building abandoned. Today, the building is undergoing the country’s biggest renovation yet, scheduled to be completed this year. The building now houses the country’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, but it is scheduled to become again the seat of the country’s legislature, the National Assembly of People’s Power post-renovation.
There’s a 24-carat diamond embedded under the dome, said to have belong to the last Russian Tsar. Another highlight is the Staircase of Honor, originally reserved only for the country’s legislative members. Hall of Lost Steps is another attraction here, named because of its acoustic sound. Inside, the building also houses the world’s third-tallest statue, the La Estatua de la República, an Athena-like female bronze sculpture that is covered with 22-carat gold leaf. The building is currently closed to the public during renovation.