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Mambi exterior

Vagón Mambí: once the elegant presidential train

By Carl Wallace / Posted November 19, 2012

The lavish onboard dining room

beautiful Mambi dinnerware

At the end of Calle Brasil, east of Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, close to the edge of the harbour is an interesting train that hasn’t gone anywhere for years.

Mambi passageway

my tourguide led me through the train

Mambi, the presidential train, dates back to the early years of the 20th Century and reflects the golden era of train travel, especially for the president of Cuba.

 

the sitting room at the rear of the train

With a charming parlor and formal dining room plus stateroom-like accommodation, Coche Mambí captures the grandeur of the time and place. Also referred to as Vagon Mambi, the train carried successive presidents from 1912 until it was retired in 1959. Originally build in the US with noticeable Canadian components in the undercarriage it is one of a very few such luxury trains ever built.

 

The name Mambi refers to the soldiers that fought in the Independence War of 1868. They wore white shirts, hats and brandished machetes as they rode into the battlefield.

 

Carl Wallace

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