The little Rio de Janeiro!
The ramshackle little town of Casablanca can best be reached from Old Havana by ferry (lancha), which will pick you up at the foot of calles Luz and Santa Clara and take you to the other side of the harbor. Alternatively you can walk about 15 minutes from the fortress of La Cabaña. Casablanca is famous for the statue that dominates the bay, the figure of Christ, carved from Italian marble, and very similar to the more famous one in Rio de Janeiro. Sometimes known as El Cristo de Casablanca, it was carved by Cuban sculptor Jilma Madra, and inaugurated in December 1958, shortly before the fall of Batista.
In the early years of the revolution the statue was struck by lightning and the head fell off. The government had the figure repaired – to the consternation of some communists who felt it a “waste of the people’s money” to repair a religious monument. The other noticeable structure here is the domed, white national observatory, the Observatorio Nacional (no public access).
You can continue on from Casablanca east to Matanzas via the electric Hershey train, built when the Hershey family operated the sugar refinery at Santa Cruz del Norte.