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The history of the Hemingway House "Finca Vigía" in Havana

The beautiful finca "La Vigia" (Hemingway House) is located in the district of San Francisco de Paula in Havana, about 24 km outside the historic city of Havana.

The house itself was built in 1886 by the Catalan architect Miguel Pascual y Baguer and is now a museum. The house was designed by its famous owner Ernest Hemingway.
From the terrace, the house has a breathtaking view over Havana.

Ernest Hemingway himself lived in the house from mid-1939 to 1960. First he rented the Finca La Vigia, in 1940 he bought the house immediately after the wedding with his third wife Martha Gellhorn. For the entire property (61,000 square meters), he paid then $ 12,500.


At the Finca la Vigia, Ernest Hemingway wrote the novel "For whom the bells ring", a Spanish civil war drama that he had reported as a journalist in the early 1930s. From the license income of this book, he acquired the property.

After divorcing Martha Gellhorn in 1945, Hemingway regularly spent the winter months at Finca La Vigia - along with his last wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway.

In 1951, Hemingway wrote his most famous book "The Old Man and the Sea" here.


As a template served his longtime friend Gregorio Fuentes (1897-2002), who had rescued him in 1926 from distress. Later, a deep friendship developed between the two men. To this day, the stories of the fisherman from Cojimar and the world-famous writer are told, who drove the Pilar to fish with his ship.



After the death of Hemingway Fuentes received the supervision of the yacht Pilar, which was then still in the port of Cojimar. Today, the famous motor yacht is on the estate of La Vigia and can be visited there. Gregorio Fuentes was for many years a living storyteller about his time with Ernest Hemingway, until he died in 2002 at the ripe old age of 104.

In the early 1940s, during World War II, Hemingway was often visited by his three sons on La Vigia. At that time, they lived in the guest house, which today serves as the museum director's office.

Also in the 1940s, Hemingway built a pool and tennis court on the grounds.

Ernest Hemingway's great passion was his dogs and cats. In addition to his 4 dogs, whose graves can still be seen on La Vigia today, Ernest Hemingway has bred Angora cats. Hemingway had up to 11 cats at times.

In 1946, Mary Hemingway moved to the estate. She had the tower built next to Hemingway House. As a retreat intended for writing, the writer preferred but preferred the bedroom of the finca.

After the Cuban Revolution Hemingway initially maintained a friendly relationship with the Cuban government and Fidel Casto. In the summer of 1960 Hemingway even presented a trophy to Fidel Castro, which he had won at a sports fishing competition.

Ernest Hemingway suffered throughout his life from severe depression, which overtook him again and again. When Ernest Hemingway left his Finca la Vigia on July 25, 1960, to be treated in the US, he had no idea that it would be a goodbye forever.
In the fall of 1960, the Cuban government expropriated the Hemingway House. However, Hemingway continued to be granted a residence permit.

After the coup attempt in Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and increasing hostility between the United States and Cuba, Hemingway was unable to return to Cuba.

Ernest Hemingway took his life on 2 July 1961.


The Hemingway House after 1960

After the expropriation by the Cuban government, the state of Immonbilie increasingly deteriorated. At times, even the US government tried to preserve the finca and there were significant disputes with the Cuban government.

The US temporarily places the finca on the list of the world's most endangered historic buildings (World Monuments Found).

The disputes ended when the Cuban government restored the property.


Since 2007, the Finca LaVigia is reopened to tourists and since then a hot spot for Havana visitors.

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