In Havana you can find a magical kingdom of mosaic creations with an impressive, colorful and unique cultural imprint
Imagine living in a neighborhood where practically every surface of every building was decorated with tiles. Imagine a magical kingdom of mosaic creations with an impressive, colorful and unique cultural imprint.
That place exists in Havana, Cuba. It is called Fusterlandia.
Fusterlandia is a small seaside neighborhood in Havana transformed into an explosion of color and playful art forms. It is placed in Jaimanitas, a community on the northwestern edge of Havana. There, artist José Fuster has built a creative enclave called Casa de Fuster. But Fusterlandia is larger than just his house, because it has expanded to include murals on other nearby buildings and walls.
Fuster (as everyone in the neighborhood calls him) visited Europe and returned to Cuba filled with inspiration from Gaudi in Barcelona and Brancusi in Romania. He set out to change the look of his home and studio, and over the years, his work has changed the look of the entire neighborhood in a dramatic way.
In 1975, after moving into a modest wood house in the rundown neighborhood, Fuster decorated his studio in colorful mosaic. Once he was done there, he asked his neighbors if he could decorate their homes and business as well. A few accepted his offer and the tile creations grew. Over the course of a decade, doctors’ offices, bus stops, fountains, benches, gateways, and more were enveloped by Fuster’s imagination.
The community of Jaimanitas is now a unique work of public art where Fuster has decorated more than 80 houses with ornate murals, each designed to suit the personality of his neighbors.
His art is “naïve,” meaning he uses childlike crude shapes and bright colors in his untrained composition. Fuster has energized his community, inspiring his neighbors to create art on their own homes, and thus his vision has aesthetically inspired this part of Havana.
There are several ways to get to Fusterlandia in Jaimanitas. You can hire a taxi to take you there, perhaps a classic car for about 20 CUC. Also, you can take the hop-on-hop-off bus in downtown Havana; it costs 5 CUC for a full day (plus a small add-on to get to Jaimanitas). Alternatively, you can take the regular local bus, if you’re willing to figure out how the system works; it´s just 0.80 MN, about 1/500th of the taxi fare.
The journey to and from Jaimanitas allows you to see parts of Havana that aren’t seen by many travelers. While it’s a bit difficult to get to, Fusterlandia is a unique piece of Havana that should be on your list if you have a few days in the city.
It is open every day from 9:00h to 17:00h. Entrance is for free, there is no charge, but Fuster and his neighbors will surely appreciate you buying any of their works. There are full paintings available, but there are also small painted tiles available for 30 CUC, so there’s something for every budget.
Fusterlandia is one of the most unique places to find modern Cuban art and a definite must see on any sojourn to Havana.
Address: 226 street and 3rd Av. (next to the Havana Club, on the 5th Av.)
Phone numbers: +53 (7) 271-2932 y +53 (7) 5264-6051