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April 9, 2023
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The Cuban theater where they filmed “La Bella de la Alhambra”


Mexico City, Mexico. It was not in Havana, nor the original Alhambra theater where they filmed one of the most popular Cuban movies of all time. The capital space of the same name, founded on the corner of Consulado and Virtudes, had been demolished in 1935; so to recreate the atmosphere of Havana in the 20s and 30s they had to choose a space that resembled it.

That was how the movie “The beauty of the Alhambra”, performed by Beatriz Valdés arrived at the José Jacinto Milanés theater in Pinar del Río. The film was inspired by the novel “Canción de Rachel” by Cuban writer Miguel Barnet and was directed by Enrique Pineda Barnet.

The film, screened in various international exhibitions and winner of a Goya award, also had César Évora as part of its cast.

The history of the Milanese

One of the eight great theaters of colonial Cuba was built in 1838 in Pinar del Río. Then it did not have the magnificence with which it reached our days. In fact, for the 19th century, the enclosure had palm walls and a guano roof. Later the place was rented by a Spanish company that remodeled it. The guano was replaced by tiles and boxes were built inside. At that time the theater was baptized as Lope de Vega and began to be a place of reference in Pinar del Río.

Pinar del Río theater today

An example: in 1867, the Lope de Vega theater was the setting chosen for the festivities for Pinar del Río having received the Title of City.

In 1880, already with stalls and better finishes, the theater was bought by Dionisio Félix del Pino Díaz. The new owner rebuilt it almost entirely and expanded it. In 1898, del Pino decided to change the name of the enclosure and instead of a Spanish poet he honored a Creole. He decided to rename the theater after a Cuban poet whom he had always greatly admired, the matancero Jose Jacinto Milanes.

The Cuban theater where they filmed "La Bella de la Alhambra"
Theater named after the poet Milanés, in the province of Pinar del Río, Cuba_archive

After 1959, we already know what happened: the new government expropriated the theater and nationalized it. Due to deterioration and lack of maintenance, the Milanese was closed for 15 years, from 1991 to 2006. Currently, in addition to being one of the most beautiful theaters on the island, it has 540 seats and exceptional acoustics where the people of Pinar del Río can enjoy the artists who come to the city.

The Milanese Theater is an exponent of eclectic architecture with neoclassical predominance. It also has a Sevillian-style patio with a stage for a coffee concert, with capacity for 120 people and a cafeteria-bar.

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