Callejon de Hamel began in the neighborhood of Cayo Hueso with one mural on April 21, 1990, in Centro Havana.
Tucked away in Centro Havana lies Cayo Hueso, a neighbourhood known for its beautiful street murals and lively music and home to the infamous Callejon de Hamel. With the creation of his first street mural in 1990, artist Salvador Gonzales Escalona began a celebration of Afro-Cuban culture which became the Callejon de Hamel, a place that has since become full of murals and live rumba music. The idea was to create a time forgotten by the city, where the street became the art gallery. Although he struggled to maintain his vision in the first few years, the support from the local people inspired him to continue and eventually, Callejon de Hamel, was completely transformed into a colourful and vibrant Afro-Cuban centre.
“Not even I knew I was transforming myself into one of the pioneers of the theme — although great masters such as Wifredo Lam had painted murals, they were painted inside houses. But as to outside murals, maybe fate reserved this little piece for me. And that’s how we get this mural on a public street. People’s reaction was magical.” – Salvador Gonzales Escalona via Cuba-Junky
What is Callejon de Hamel?
Historically the street was named after a US citizen of French and German origin, Fernando Belleau Hamel, who came to occupy the area. During this time the area was known for the famous generosity of Afro-Cuban workers who worked for Sr. Hamel. Callejon perfectly represents the historical significance of generosity and influence on the musical movement.
Brightly coloured street murals and psychedelic art shops aside, the live rumba music that takes place every Sunday from noon is one of the main reasons to visit Callejon de Hamel, Havana’s high temple of Afro-Cuban culture. This unique energy filled neighborhood was described by Lonely Planet as, “raw and hypnotic, with interlocking drum patterns and lengthy rhythmic chants powerful enough to summon up the spirit of the orishas (Santería deities)”
Many would describe it as a living sculpture full of poetic images that you have to enter to experience. The friendly people and the feverous music pull you in, providing an authentic 40’s and 50’s Cuban musical movement experience whilst giving you a real taste of rumba.
This lively neighbourhood is a must see during your next TravelSmart VIP getaway to Cuba! Choose from one of our great hotels HERE or by calling (888)-544-1114 (US & Canada)