A list of important historical and cultural places, museums and old
streets that you can visit in Havana
In the second half of the 16th century the Spanish
governorship moved from Santiago de Cuba to Havana for good. From
that moment on Havana harbor became the most
important in the island, because of the creation in 1561 of the fleet system
and due to the fact that this harbor was an obliged stopping place on the way
to the Peninsula. The population and the
city grew out and beyond that narrow stripe bordering the bay.
By agreement of the town council, in March, 1640 the
Cristo was created. The project also included a hermitage and a calvary at the same place where a
boundary cross, marking the end of the fourteen crosses or Stations of
the Cross during Lent, was located. In that way the dimensions of the plaza
were planned according to the character of the processions that were to take
place in it.
The area where the Plaza de la Catedral
is located used to be, according to 17th century records, a marshland renewed
each year during the rainy season. At the place where the plaza was created,
and due to its surface’s properties, the waters became stagnant, so that the
place was known at the beginning as Plaza de la Ciénaga
Considering the decision taken by the keeper of the
Castillo de la Real Fuerza, in the first half of 16th
century, to use the Parade Ground for military practices, the neighbors of
the town insisted to the town council on the need to create a new public
square for their amusement.
Francisco because of the convent next to it, this
square was conceived in 1628, with the objective of supplying water to the
ships trading with the metropolis. For many years it also served to stockpile
the goods arriving from the harbor. Chronicles of the time say that the
square had a busy commercial life.
The first known public square of Havana
was located on the spot that, later on in the 16th century, was occupied by
the Castillo de la Real
Fuerza. To place it, they took an
adjoining lot to the south where at the time there was some poor housing.
Some acts from that period (between 1559 and 1577) consign that the square
was large, clean and that it was known as Plaza de la Iglesia
because it was next to the Parroquial Mayor (Main Parish
Inspired in the Royal
Museum of the Real Square in Brussels,
Belgium, and born thanks
to the support of Madame Jo Draps, its director,
this singular place in Havana
offers a tour through the history of cacao, its harvesting, production and commercialization.
The French Pharmacy was funded in 1882, on the former Arms Square,
known today as Liberty Park, and turned into the Pharmaceutical Museum
The main objective of this institution is to preserve
research and promote the historical legacy of the wise German Alejandro
Humboldt. It was inaugurated by the Office of the Historian of Havana in
October 31st, 1997, in
a 18th century building.
This gunsmith’s shop, founded in 1934 under the name of
Gunsmith Company of Cuba, was attacked on April 9, 1958 by members of the
July 26 Movement led by Fidel Castro as part of the actions to overthrow Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship.
Only inferior to a similar one in New York, the Scale Model of Havana is,
due to its dimensions, the second largest in the world. The 727 square
kilometers of the city are represented in relief in an area of 22 meters of length and
A beautiful small palace built at the beginning of XX
century, with a elaborated prevalence of the eclecticism
with neoclassical elements. The house was in its time center of interesting
gatherings of outstanding artists like Federico García
Lorca, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Eduardo Zamacois, María Guerrero and
the musician René Dumesnil.
One of the first monastic orders that arrived in Cuba
was that of the Franciscans. Around 1570 they were already the protégées of
one of the first notables of the town who, at the time of his decease,
donated all his possessions with the aim of building a monastery for the
order by the harbor
of Havana. In 1574 alms
began to be collected for the construction. In 1575 the building license was
requested of the king and of the Royal Court of Santo Domingo. Finally, by
1584 the work was already advanced, so that we conclude that it was finished
before the century was over.
After a meticulous work, by November of 1983 one of the
most beautiful colonial mansions in the Historic Center of Old Havana, the
House of Charity, was completely restored.
La Punta just like El Morro was designed to protect the
entrance to the Havana
Bay that became an
important and strategic entranceway to the harbor since the settlement of the
The authorities of the island took steps in order to
have a new fortress. In 1558 arrived in Havana
the engineer Bartolomé Sánchez, appointed by the
king Felipe II. The construction of the fort was delayed because of
disagreements among the governor, the neighbors whose lots were expropriated
for the works and the engineer himself. The arrival of a new master builder
on the same year had a sorry ending. It wasn’t until 1577 that the Real Fuerza was finished, thanks to the work of black slaves
and Mexican money.
An ancient three floor colonial residence, placed at El Puerto Avenue,
in Havana, is the venue of the Rum Museum .
Historians affirmed it was built in the 17th century (1772- 1780), and that
it was owned by the Counts Mortera. Due to its
historical values was declared Cultural Patrimony of Havana by the UNESCO in
The most ample collection of Cuban coins is exhibited
in this museum, placed out of the old Monte Piedad,
very close to the Plaza de Armas, downtown in old Havana.
In this a small house was born José Martí
Pérez, Cuban National Hero and leader of the independence, one of the more
outstanding personalities in the Spanish and Latin American literature in the
19th century. It is a museum since 1945, and it was declared National
Monument in 1949.
The house belonged to Don Luis Chacon, three times
Military Governor of Cuba.
The building was finished around 1622, and is considered as the first one
rebuilt at the square, in the 18th century majestic style, which prevails in
the present environment of the place.
Thanks to its privileged location, in the Plaza de Armas, in the Old Havana, this institution inherited a
Cuban tradition of the 18th century. It is characterized by an historical
environment and an intense cultural and tourism life.
The Catalá, Sarrá and Co. society opened the drug store La Reunión
in May 1853, at 41 Teniente Rey Street. It was
one of the most elegant and prestigious pharmacies of Havana. At the beginning of 20th century it
was considered second in importance world wide and the first in Cuba.
The number 311 of the narrow O’Reilly street, in Old
Havana, reopened on March 16th, 2004. The house was rescued from ruins after
a meticulous restoration work, and was turned into Víctor
Hugo House-Museum, to honor the French writer, although he never lived or
even travelled to Cuba.
The perfume is one of the Cubans' secular devotions.
From the times when the grandmothers perfumed the wardrobes with tender mint
and vetiver leaves and the families gathered in the
interior patios under the aroma of the tropical plants. Perfume was a
delicious resource in the middle of the Island's
climate, where summer is a permanent season. That's why perfumes have a
museum, near a quiet patio of a Seville
ambiance, with a fountain, a small reservoir of water and a grapevine.
The building from 1678, former Real Academy of Medicine,Physics and Natural
Sciences of Havana, became the museum since 1868. Some years later it had the
first museum in Cuba,
inaugurated in May 19th,1874, and sponsored by the Real Academy.
It was also a convent of the order Agustinos, the
first Anatomic Museum
in the country and the first school of engineering in Cuba.