Restoring Havana’s beautiful stained glass windows

 In the past, Havana’s Vedado neighborhood was a symbol of affluence and opulence, with its grand old houses boasting exquisite stained glass windows. 

Today, these windows are in various states of decay, but a dedicated team of restoration professionals is working tirelessly to bring them back to their former glory.

Led by Mirell Vazquez, a stained glass restoration teacher at Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos School, the team is subsidized by the state and is focused on preserving this art form.

Vazquez has identified around 500 stained glass windows in Vedado, once the home of the rich elite in Havana. These homes, built with money from the thriving sugar industry, have mostly been repurposed as offices or embassies. As a result, the windows have suffered neglect and decay.

Restoring Havana’s beautiful stained glass windows

stained glass windows

Havana showcases a variety of stained glass windows, ranging from colonial-style fans with wooden frames, which are a symbol of historic Old Havana, to the European-inspired designs popular in the 20th century.

The climate in Cuba, with its high humidity and tropical weather, has been particularly harsh on these delicate creations, causing cracks, missing parts, and deformed lead.

Despite having government backing for their work, Vazquez and her team often face challenges in obtaining the necessary materials due to the country’s economic crisis. Nevertheless, they persevere and continue their labor of love.

Linda Viamontes de la Torre, one of Vazquez’s team members, finds deep satisfaction in restoring the windows to their original beauty. Working on a panel from a neo-Gothic church, she expressed her joy in witnessing the transformation.

stained glass windows

Havana’s stunning stained glass windows have caught attention around the world. UNESCO and the European Union are now working together to train young restoration enthusiasts from the Caribbean region in Cuba.

Chloe Cadet from Trinidad and Tobago is amazed by Havana’s well-preserved historical architecture, while Franklin Alberto Sanchez from the Dominican Republic is grateful for the training opportunities in stained glass restoration.

With its rich stained glass heritage and the dedication of its restorers, Havana is establishing itself as an important center for preserving this art form. The restoration efforts are not only preserving the city’s cultural history but also providing opportunities for young professionals to learn and apply their skills in their home countries.

The stained glass windows of Havana will continue to shine, serving as a testament to the city’s enduring beauty and artistic spirit.

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