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Culture, Libraries and Museums

Cuban troops, Morro Castle, Playa Giron, Revolutionary Museum, Bay of Pigs Invasion

The largest library in Cuba is the Jose Marti National Library in Havana, containing some 2.2 million volumes. It is the major repository for 20th-century literature, periodicals, monographs, maps, and reference books. The National Museum of Havana houses collections of both classical and modern art along with relics of native cultures. The Revolutionary Museum retains the memorabilia of the 1959 revolution as well as some relics of the wars of independence and the Batista era. The National Archives contain all primary documents from the colonial period to the present.

The History Institute contains primary documents, many of a sensitive nature, on the Cuban Communist Party and other radical groups from the 1950s to the present. It also is the repository for the artifacts and documents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and specific events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, in which the discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba caused a tense standoff between the United States and the USSR. Other important museums are the Colonial and Anthropological museums in Havana, located in restored homes of Spanish officials, which depict the colonial past. The Museum of the City of Havana, also in a colonial palace, houses the papers of Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, a journalist who became the city historian of Havana in 1933.

The Morro Castle is a fortress with excellent views of Havana’s harbor and skyline. It now houses a maritime museum. The Guanabacoa Museum, near Morro Castle, provides information about Santeria and, occasionally, performances of rituals are given here. The Emilio Bacardi Moreau Museum of natural history and art in Santiago de Cuba displays the natural wildlife and plants of the island and is located in an old rum factory. A museum and monument to the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion stands at Playa Giron, where Cuban troops turned back a force of Cuban exiles which, with the support of the United States, attempted to overthrow the Castro government.

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