Habana 1791, a perfumery with memory

Habana 1791, a perfumery with memory

Heritage & Traditions

By Alina Veranes

Its inauguration dates back to the dawn of the present century and millennium – February 2000-, and yet it is called Perfumería Habana 1791, recalling those flying, alcoholic, aromatic, citric or floral essences that we still associate today with the times of our grandmothers and grandfathers, when everything, at least, had to smell good and above all “clean”.

Consistent with that spirit, it was settled in an old house from the 18th century, which was the initial property of the wealthy Mr. Lázaro Flores and his wife. And it still stands, renovated of course, on Mercaderes street No. 156, between Obrapía and Lamparilla, in the heart of the Historic Center of the Cuban capital.

Due to its characteristics, many also call the establishment the Perfume Museum, and the term is not unreasonable, because there, in addition to the old bottles on display, there is a kind of alchemy that creates essences, through artisanal distillation processes, from the extraction of the oils of the very aromatic flowers of our tropics: roses, jasmine, picualas, white lilies, gardenias, hyacinths and butterflies..

The place, before being a perfumery, fulfilled the functions of a store, a cafeteria, a canteen, a pharmacy and even a hardware store. So it is a place with history, and by the way, they say that it is very interesting.

A great architectural reform was made to the building in the 20th century, which gives it its neoclassical façade. And even a tenement house or citadel was converted from then on. Good and unexpected luck came to him from the 90s of that century, when the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana, rescues and restores it. Thus, with a new image, it became the original perfumery that gives the work its title.

Perfumery and Museum at the same time is an elegant place, with specialized departments and sales areas for its products. It not only exhibits or sells national essences. The establishment honors major world brands of that exclusive turn, by exhibiting very old bottles of those firms.

Many foreign personalities from the world of politics, art and business have passed through the Habana 1791 Perfumery and have acquired some of the national fragrances that are offered there.