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Friday, January 7, 2011



Remembering Havana's Most Famous Department Store


El Encanto, Havana's most famous department store was also considered one of the world's best during the 1950s.  It was founded in 1888 by two partners, José Solís and Aquilino Entrialgo.  It was situated at Havana's most famous intersection, Galiano and San Rafael, known to Cubans as 'La esquina del pecado' (The sin's corner), because of all the beautiful women that walked by on their way to El Encanto, and other department stores nearby, such as Fin De Siglo, Floglar, and the 'Ten Cent' (Woolworth's).  It had subsidiaries in many other cities in Cuba. Errol Flynn, Robert Taylor, John Wayne, Tyrone Power, Ray Milland, Debbie Reynolds, Pier Angelli, Lana Turner and many other Hollywood luminaries, used to shop at El Encanto.  Almost every famous visitor to the Island always made a stop at this gorgeous department store.


From the article "Famed store exhibit evokes memories for exiles," May 18, 2008 - Miami Herald Blog: When people walked into the leading department store in pre-Fidel Castro Cuba, many would exclaim: esto es un encanto – roughly this is enchanting in Spanish. It was a fitting reaction given the name of the high-end outlet: El Encanto, the enchantment.


The fashionable Havana store was in the headlines again this past weekend -- in Miami. Thousands of people flocked to El Encanto exhibit at the Cuba Nostalgia show at the Fair Expo-Center in west Miami Dade where former store employees offered a life-size realistic replica of a store display window as well as photos of what the department store looked like in the 1950s.


Founded 120 years ago as a small store near the corner of Galiano and San Rafael streets in old Havana, El Encanto grew by the 1950s into one of the world's most fashionable department stores. In its time it was comparable to today’s Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom in the United States, Printemps in France or Liverpool in Mexico.


To read more go to:




To view the documentary video "El Encanto" (Part 1 of 3 - Spanish) go to:



To view a video (in English) and read the article 'Cuba of yesteryear died with destruction of El Encanto store' go to:





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