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Havana, Cuba

Los Jardines de la Tropical

A Spanish-style estate that has traded black ties for rock concerts. 

All of the great parties in Havana could not stop Los Jardines de la Tropical from falling into a picturesque state of decay.

Built in the late 1800s by the Herrera family, owners of La Tropical brewery, this Cuban pleasure garden is now a somewhat abandoned gem on the outskirts of Havana. Meant to mirror a lush Spanish estate, the Tropical Gardens, as the site is known in English, was built around 1912 and quickly became a hot spot for high society and the most popular orchestras of the time. In its prime, the grounds were scattered with waterfalls, gazeboes, and a small palace in the style of the Alhambra in Granada. There was also a huge ballroom capable of entertaining around 500 amorous couples.

As the popularity of the lush social space waned, the structures fell into disrepair and many of the extravagant flourishes throughout the garden became overgrown. The site was partially refurbished and a number of different ventures including nightclubs and restaurants tried to bring the gardens back into favor but none of them stuck.

Now the Los Jardines de la Tropical belongs to the Havana Metropolitan Parks organization and efforts are underway to preserve the verdant tropical history of the site. Frequent rock concerts and dance festivals are held on the grounds, so while the tuxedoes and finery may have disappeared, the parties rage on.