Callejon de Hamel is a narrow alley in Havana filled with lively colorful murals and sculptures made from bathtubs, hand pumps, and pinwheels. It offers visitors to Cuba’s capital a taste of the city’s local art.
Cuban artist Salvador Gonzáles Escalona describes his Afro-Cuban style as a mix of surrealism, cubism, and abstract art. After spending more than two decades producing artworks in Cuba, as well as the U.S., Norway, Italy, and Venezuela, the self-taught artist began adorning the alley outside his apartment with art in 1990.
After filling the alley, which stretches for about two blocks, with mosaics, paintings, and sculptures, including a throne that bestows good luck and a bench made of old bathtubs, his works started spilling out onto street and up the sides of the buildings.
The area was once rather desolate, but the colorful street now provides an eccentric backdrop for musicians and rumba dancers who entertain the increasing crowds of tourists and locals. Sunday afternoon rumba sessions are popular with tourists. A local children’s art program meets in the alley. The surrounding Cayo Hueso neighborhood once had a dangerous reputation, but Salvador’s art has helped to change perceptions of the area.
Know Before You Go
Map the alley before you go because internet access in Cuba is iffy. The alley is located about a 15-minute walk east of the Hotel Nacional.