Following the Revolution, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara famously played a few rounds of golf at the exclusive Havana Country Club before tearing it up and converting the grounds to house Cuba’s leading art academy, the Instituto Superior de Arte (Higher Art Institute, Calle 120 #1110, esq. 9na, tel. 07/208-0017 or 208-0288, isa [at] cubarte [dot] cult [dot] cu, by appointment only), featuring the Escuela de Música (School of Music), Escuela de Ballet (Ballet School), Escuela de Baile Moderno (School of Modern Dance), and Escuela de Bellas Artes (School of Fine Arts).
The school was designed by three young “rebel” architects: Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, and Cuban Ricardo Porro. Porro’s art school was a deliberate evocation of the female form complete with fountain shaped as a mamey, or papaya—an overt reference to the female vulva.
As the five main buildings emerged, they were thought too sensual, too avant-garde for grim Communist tastes. The project was halted, though the school did open. The ghostly complex fell into ruin, with long tentacles of branches and roots creeping into the buildings.
Amazingly, in 2001 the Cuban government approached the three architects and asked them to complete the project. Restoration was completed in 2009.
For the best views, drive along Calles 15 and 134. In summer the facility is closed.