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Napoleonic Museum

Near Old Havana is an excellent museum filled with historic and art objects related to Napoleon Bonaparte, who probably never visited the country.

The Napoleonic Museum in Havana houses an impressive collection of art and mementos related to the well-known French emperor. See the assortment of items gathered by two powerful Cuban community leaders in the early 1900s.

Julio Lobo, a prominent businessman in Cuba’s early sugar industry, and the politician Orestes Ferrara collected items related to Napoleon and the Napoleonic era. Visit the collection in Ferrara’s one-time residence, Villa Fiorentina. The beautiful estate includes a large Renaissance-style palazzo built in the 1920s. The views from the 4th floor are outstanding.

The museum contains artwork and artifacts from the end of the French monarchy before Napoleon’s rise through the height of his rule to his exile and death. Look for paintings of the fateful Battle of Waterloo as well as a re-creation of Napoleon’s bedroom and study, with furniture and china from the wealthy period of his empire. Porcelain, coins, arms, books, engravings and letters are among the more than 7,000 pieces in the museum.

Notice how numerous painters presented different portraits of Napoleon and the imperial family. François Gérard created paintings of Napoleon’s sister Caroline and step-daughter Hortense, who also became Napoleon’s sister-in-law. Robert Lefevre painted Napoleon and his other sisters. Gros and Andrea Appiani painted Napoleon in Italy while Jean-Baptiste Regnault presented his camp in Boulogne, France. As Napoleon’s fame and infamy continued beyond his death, later artists including Vibert, Meissonier and Detaille created additional paintings of the Napoleonic saga. The collection includes sketches of the great French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

Seek out one important but eerie highlight of the museum, a bronze cast of Napoleon’s death mask. Doctor François Antommarchi made the original upon Napoleon’s death in St. Helena in 1833. Interestingly, the doctor studied yellow fever in Cuba in 1837 and died here soon after.

Havana’s Napoleonic Museum is close to the University of Havana, just west of Havana’s Old Town. The museum is open during daytime hours from Tuesday through Saturday as well as Sunday mornings. Visit this fascinating site in a former Spanish colony to get a detailed glimpse of one of French history’s most important figures.


Guide to Exploring around Napoleonic Museum


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Lodging Near Napoleonic Museum

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Hotel Nacional de Cuba $142
Reviewed on May 13, 2019
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Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Plaza, Havana
     
    4.0 of 5
    4.0 out of 5.0

    Great location, right on the Malecon. The rooms were a little dated, but bathroom was nice and spacious. Overall very historic hotel also, which was great. Would stay here again and recommend to visitors, especially Americans.

    NH Capri La Habana $135
    Reviewed on May 2, 2019
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    NH Capri La Habana

    NH Capri La Habana

    Calle 21 between N and O Street, Havana
       
      4.0 of 5
      4.0 out of 5.0

      NH Capri is “top of the line” as far as hotels in Havana go. The country is very limited in its offerings so to go back each night after exploring the city and have a touch of modern times was refreshing. The WiFi is spotty but again, it is better than most of Cuba. The staff at NH Capri is very ...

      NH Collection Hotel Victoria La Habana $125
      Reviewed on May 10, 2019
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      NH Collection Hotel Victoria La Habana

      NH Collection Hotel Victoria La Habana

      Calle 19 N 101 e/L y M Vedado, Havana, Havana
         
        4.5 of 5
        4.0 out of 5.0

        I really like this hotel. It’s clean, cozy, walking distance to Malécon. Great breakfast! Staff is extremely helpful and friendly....especially Frank!!! Overall you will not be disappointed.

        Casa Orquídea
        Casa Orquídea

        Casa Orquídea

        Calle 28, Between 19 and 21, 4 Entre Lealtad y Campanario, Havana
           
          2.0 out of 5.0

          Located in El Vedado, this guesthouse is within a 15-minute walk of University of Havana and Malecon. Plaza Vieja is 2 mi (3.2 km) away.

          Casa Serendipia
          Casa Serendipia

          Casa Serendipia

          1218 Neptuno, Havana, La Habana
             
            3.0 out of 5.0

            Located in El Vedado, this guesthouse is within a 15-minute walk of University of Havana and Malecon. Plaza Vieja is 2.1 mi (3.4 km) away.

            Caissa Neptuno
            Caissa Neptuno

            Caissa Neptuno

            1207 Neptuno, Havana, La Habana
               
              2.0 out of 5.0

              Located in El Vedado, this hostel is within a 10-minute walk of University of Havana and Malecon. Plaza Vieja is 2.1 mi (3.3 km) away.

              Noa Hostal
              Noa Hostal

              Noa Hostal

              Neptuno 1209 altos, entre Mazón y Basarrate, Havana, La Habana
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0

                Located in El Vedado, this guesthouse is within a 15-minute walk of University of Havana and Malecon. Plaza Vieja is 2.1 mi (3.4 km) away.

                Departamento Universidad $55
                Departamento Universidad

                Departamento Universidad

                1272 San Lazaro, Entre L & M, Havana, La Habana
                   
                  2.5 out of 5.0

                  Located in El Vedado, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of University of Havana and Malecon. Plaza Vieja is 2.2 mi (3.5 km) away.