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Armas Square, Havana . Cuba

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  • Calle Tacon e/ Obispo y O'Relly, Old Havana
  • Destination: Havana
  • Open: Daily
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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 (Church Square) because it was next to the Parroquial Mayor (Main Parish Church).

Unlike what the neighbors expected of their plaza –of it being a place of amusement and social interaction– its vicinity to the Castillo de la Real Fuerza led Diego Quinones, keeper of the fortress, to make it into a maneuver ground in 1584. From that time on the frequency of military exercises made the people call the square, Plaza de Armas (Parade Ground) as it came to be known.

In May, 1828 the Templete was opened to a side of the Plaza. Around that time the ground of the surrounding streets was leveled by the laying of the San Miguel’s Flagstones, in order to avoid the bothersome pooling of rainwater. In July, 1834 the Count of Villanueva unveiled a statue at the center of the plaza to honor the memory of the King Fernando VII. It was carved by the Spanish artist Antonio Sola.

In the second half of the 18th century, when the Field Marshal Felipe Fonsdeviela, Marquis of the Tower, took charge of the government, the Plaza de Armas experienced a change for the better. The marshal, worried by the lack of public promenades, street paving, decent government and town houses, and jailhouses, began the construction of a building that comprised three functions: chapter house, governor’s residence and jailhouse. So the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales came into existence, nowadays the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) and home to the City’s Historian Office. Next to it the Post Office (Palacio del Segundo Cabo, at present Cuban Institute of Books) was built in a slightly baroque style. The blueprints for this area were drawn by Antonio Fernández de Trebejos, native of Havana. In the coming years fountains, street lamps, stone benches and shrubs were added to the plaza. Chronicles of that time show the plaza as a charming, aristocratic place, where well-dressed men and women used to meet to socialize.

Over time, the plaza fell into decline. It wasn’t until 1935 that the prestigious architects Evelio Govantes and Felix Cabarrocas drafted projects that involved the recovery of the plaza as it could be seen on engravings of the time. So they gave back to the plaza the military appearance it had in 1841. In February 27, 1955 at the request of some Cubans, the statue of Fernando VII was replaced with one of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes by the Cuban artist Sergio Lopez Mesa. Since 1923 the official name of the plaza is that of this Cuban patriot.

Mapa de Armas Square

Armas Square is located in Havana

Capital of Cuba and the country's administrative, political, cultural and scientific center, it is also the capital of two provinces: City of Havana and Havana. Though only around 280 square miles (727 square kilometers) in size-0.65 percent of the archipelago's total area.

The Old Havana and system of forts led UNESCO to declare it a part of world heritage in 1982. Founded on its present site in 1519, the settlement of San Cristobal de La Habana prospered mainly due to its bay, which was a natural port of call for ships sailing to and from the New World. Starting in 1634, because of its strategic location, San Cristobal de La Habana was considered the key to the New World-as attested to by royal letters patent-and the main defense of the West Indies.

The Cuban capital consists of an immense number of buildings in a wide range of architectural styles, built in the course of nearly five centuries. These styles range from the pre-baroque to the baroque, neo-Gothic, neoclassical, eclectic, art noveau and art-deco, to the modern.

Alejo Carpentier, one of Cuba's most famous authors, called it "the city of columns" and focused attention on its streets, which he considered a perennially rich show of life, humanity and contrasts that was bound to entertain any observer.

Over 14 kilometers of excellent beaches lie to the east of the Cuban capital. To the south, a green belt contributes to a healthful atmosphere.

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Review about Squares: Armas Square
Excellent Hilary

This beautiful square is located close to the Havana Cathedral and is lined on all sides by marble benches. The many lamps that light the square are powered by gas, just like in times long past. During the day, second-hand booksellers frequent the square and at night, many people come attracted by the surrounding restaurants and bars.

Excellent yaima

armas square
Feast your eyes on the glorious neoclassical architecture at Havana’s oldest square, built in the 1520s. A highlight is the Museo de la Ciudad, one of Cuba’s most comprehensive museums, located inside the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Make your way over to the sea-facing side of the plaza to take in the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the oldest remaining fort in the Americas, erected in the mid-1500s.

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