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Plaza Vieja - Old Square, Havana . Cuba

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  • Calle Inquisidor e/ Muralla y Teniente Rey , Old Havana
  • Destination: Havana
  • Open: Daily
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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.

But the business deals required to acquire the lots needed to create the aforementioned square didn’t do well because of the high prices. It wasn’t until 1587 that at a town council meeting it was decided to use as a public square the area behind the Convento de San Francisco, which was being built at the time. The new square was known as Plaza Nueva (New Square) as opposed to the Plaza de Armas or Plaza Vieja (Old square). Well into the 18th century it came to be called the Plaza Vieja, as opposed to the Nueva Plaza del Cristo.

The development of the Cuban architectural style in the 18th century can be appreciated on the houses surrounding the plaza. These houses, some of them dating back to the 17th century, were two stories high, had lofty ceilings and wooden balconies. They also had ample porches to temper the hot rainy weather and wide corridors closed with blinds, on top of which there were typical crystal arches that became one of the most distinctive elements of the colonial architecture. Many of these crystal arches are still very well kept.

Among the most remarkable houses there is one that used to belong to José Martín Félix de Arrate y Acosta, one of the first three historians of Havana City (1687-1766) and one formerly owned by Gabriel Beltrán de Santa Cruz y Aranda, Count of San Juan de Jaruco, where the famous Countess of Merlin was born years later. On the side of the Plaza facing east, Laureano Torres de Ayala, Marquis of Casa-Torres and captain general, built his house during the first decade of the 18th century.

Around 1796 a fountain was erected at the plaza. In it, a bowl upon an attic column two meters high, decorated with the city and the count arms stood out. In 1835, during Miguel de Tacon’s administration, the Cristina Market, a four sided irregular parallelogram with sixty market stalls was built in honor of the Spanish Queen


Mapa de Plaza Vieja - Old Square

Plaza Vieja - Old 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: Plaza Vieja - Old Square
Very good steve

Old Havana
Havana is a different city. It has a special, soothing sense. Havana people are modest and calm. We stayed there for 4 nights in mid February. We felt it was a safe place, but it is always good to be awake as any other big city. People are trying to earn their lives, so it is customary that they come and ask you if you but cigars, want to go to Salsa club, taxi rides etc. But they do not insist if you expres that you do not want. Well, we loved Havana. Too many things to see. Best part was live music in La Lluvia del oro, the group was Son Tradicional. One point was use of credit cards. Using credit cards means using US dollars and they charge you 11%. You can not pay with Euor through credit card. So, if you use Euros, keep that in mind.

Average AfromN

“Nice but mostly tourists hanging there ”
The plaza is beautiful, with good options to drink beer (only microbrewery in Cuba, dont expect it to be like a Europeen one) and the best coffee to be found in Havana.

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