Finca Vigía – Havana, Cuba - Atlas Obscura

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Finca Vigía

The house that birthed The Old Man and The Sea is now a museum devoted to the old man who wrote it. 


Writer and man’s-man Ernest Hemingway moved to Cuba in the 1930s, staying in hotels and tripping across the world, but rather quickly after coming to the island, the author bought Finca Vigía which would be his home and office for some of the most important works of his career.

The 15-acre property was originally built in 1886 just outside of Havana. Hemingway purchased the home for himself and his third wife in 1939 and he would live in the residence until 1960, just one year prior to his death. The colorful writer filled the home with letters, big game trophies from his African hunting trips, books, and cats to make himself feel at home. It was during this time that the author took an interest in breeding cats, leading to the population of six-toed mutant cats still found at his home in Florida.

During his time in the Cuban villa, Hemingway also wrote a great deal of his masterpiece For Whom The Bell Tolls, about the Spanish Civil War, and penned the entirety of The Old Man and the Sea, for which he would go on to earn a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize for Literature. The vibrant Cuban culture and inviting climes at Finca Vigía seemed to do the author well.

After Hemingway’s suicide in 1961, the house was preserved in his memory but began to fall into disrepair in the 1990s. In 2005 Finca Vigía was restored via an unprecedented collaboration between US and Cuban organizations. The home is now known as the Museo Ernest Hemingway and the home is preserved as it was when Hemingway lived in it. The museum features such items as unpublished writings, his original typewriter, and even his fishing boat, Pilar, which inspired his Pulitzer Prize-winning novella.

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