|The Cuba at the Crossroads event was held at Rollins College.|
"That means when you are walking around on the streets of Havana, you are walking on American soil," Cuban architect and urban planner Miguel Coyula joked today during a presentation at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Coyula was the keynote speaker at the college's Cuba at the Crossroads symposium. He covered a lot of ground - from the 1500s to present day and explained how Havana developed its unique character.
Cuba's indigenous people didn't influence Cuban culture or society in a big way, Coyula said, because they were "rapidly exterminated" - some 250,000 people were killed over a 30-year period. But European influence can be seen all over Havana. Coyula said that many of Cuba's creoles - the children of Spanish settlers - traveled to Europe to study. They brought back European customs and ideas when they returned.
"Old Havana is a little piece of Europe in the middle of the Americas," said Coyula, a professor at the University of Havana.