José Martí Memorial is comprised of a white statue of the national hero seated in front of a tall tower with a lookout over Havana. Gaze up at Martí, who sits in a thinking pose appropriate for his role as philosopher, poet and essayist. His writings were influential in supporting Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain in the late 1800s. He gave his life on the battlefield in 1895 before the ultimate goal was reached.
Resting on a raised pedestal, the white marble sculpture of Martí is 56 feet (17 meters) tall. Just behind it a tower rises 358 feet (109 meters), built with a five-pointed star shape representing the vertices of freedom. The original plans calling for Martí’s image to rest at the top of the structure were modified when the building was constructed between 1953 and 1958, just before the overthrow of Batista. Climb a few steps to the base of the tower to enter a small museum. Read the 89 quotes from Martí’s writing to understand how his passionate writing inspired the yearning for freedom of Cuba’s citizens living under colonial rule. View portraits and relics from his life.
Drive through the area in the evening to see larger-than-life metal sculptures illuminated against the walls of two buildings near the plaza. The silhouette images of Cuban Revolution heroes, Che Guevara on the Ministry of the Interior and Camilo Cienfuegos on the Ministry of Communications, appear to be looking outward in fraternity with José Martí, their fellow patriot from an earlier era.
View the statue of the Cuban hero in Plaza de la Revolucion at any time. Up to 1 million people have gathered in the large open square for special events, including speeches by Fidel Castro and a visit by the Pope. The José Martí Memorial tower is open during the day from Monday through Saturday. There is a fee to access the museum and a separate fee to use an elevator to the lookout. From the top, gaze toward Key West, Florida, 105 miles (169 kilometers) away, in the past a beacon to refugees fleeing Cuba.Check before your visit, however, to ensure the tower is open as it may be closed for renovations.