Havana Cathedral Churches and Convents, Havana . Cuba
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- San Ignacio y Empedrado, Old Havana. Cuba
- Destination: Havana
- Open: Daily
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 (Swamp Square). Nevertheless, around the middle of 16th century, the first requests by the neighbors to buy nearby lots were made, because during the dry season the stagnant waters disappeared and the living conditions improved.
In order to overcome the difficulties that the rainy season meant for communications with the city proper, in the year of 1577 the authorities projected the construction of a wooden bridge. Ten year later, Governor Gabriel Luján wrote to the king due to the widespread drought suggesting the creation of a pond to take advantage of some springs streaming out of the spot where today we find the crossing of San Ignacio Street and Callejón del Chorro.
In 1592 the engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli finished his work on the Zanja Real, the first aqueduct built by the Spanish in America. One of its branches reached to the Callejón del Chorro, next to the Plaza de la Catedral.
In spite of the distribution of the lots at the swamp, and as a request from the crown, the Plaza was not intended for sale or to build on. Until the beginning of the 18th century the square was used for the restocking of the metropolis navy and commercial fleet’s water supplies.
In 1727 the work on the church that would give this plaza a greater importance began. Eventually it came to be known as Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square).
This is one of the most valuable historical sites in the city, especially for its majestic early 18th century houses. A good example of this kind of architecture is the house of the Captain General Luis Chacón, facing the Cathedral. To the west we find the house the former alderman Francisco F. Ponce de León, Third Marquis of Aguas Claras built; later on acquired by the counts of San Fernando de Peñalver. In front of the house of the Marquis of Aguas Claras there are two adjoining houses, one belonging to the Count of Lombillo (corner of Empedrado Street) and the other to the Marquis of Arcos, Royal Treasurer whose name was Diego Peñalver Angulo and who earned the title because of its services during the English siege and occupation. In 1825 the Post Office moved into this house.
All these domestic buildings have been preserved thanks to the mastery of its builders and the quality of the construction materials employed. Wide doors and windows, grilles and huge gates with thick pillars are usual elements in these houses.
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Havana Cathedral 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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It is the greatest example of the so-called “Cuban baroque style,” that was developed in Cuba at the beginning of the 18th century. Its construction started in 1748 and was stopped in 1767, when its managing agency, Compañía de Jesús (Jesus Company) was expelled from Spain and overseas territories –of course, Havana included--. Short time later, it was agreed to continue building it to transfer the Main Parish to such place. The construction finished in 1777, and it was given the rank of Cathedral in 1787. For over 100 years-from 1796 to 1898-the body of Christopher Columbus lay in a mausoleum here. This was the last one of the main squares to be built. During the second half of the XVI century, some neighbors built their houses in this area and named it the swamp, because this is where the waters coming from the city gathered before going into the sea. It is therefore that the first running water system in Havana, Zanja Real, would relieve its waters through a whole on the wall of the square, at a place today known as El Chorro (The Stream), where there is currently a commemorative plate. This square became one of the main places of the city during the XVIII century, wealthy families of Havana’s high society started then to build mansions that can still be seen in the area. Its aspect changed completely, and its name became Cathedral Square after the outstanding Church of Jesus was built on one of its sides. In the XX century, constructions took place in the square, as well as some restoration work considering the city planning work of a French man known as Portier, who earned the credit for the flower on the pavement. The Cathedral Square is a charming and monumental place, inseparable from the soul of the City of Havana.
“Looks great from the outside ”
As you enter the square you can see the Cathedral and it has an old world charm. It takes about three steps to get inside and sadly for me the charm disappeared. Most of the pews are cut off to prevent visitors from sitting down and there was little to see.
Quite and peaceful inside and also an escape from the hot sun. Not much place to sit , but still you can see people wanting to say a little prayer and standing quitely comtemplating. There is a guide from Cuba inside and he gives the whole history for a small donation. The pedlars outside add colour and fun. Best to... More
“Worth a look ”
Shorts and uncovered arms not allowed. Nowhere nearly as bedecked in gold and silver as many Catholic churches in the Americas (go to Cusco for that), but worth a fifteen minute visit. For photographers, some good lighting effect inside. Go before 1100 and it's not too busy.
“A beautiful place ”
We toured around the outside then went in to see. It is beautiful and there are people praying so be respectful and quiet. We sat and said a little prayer for Cuba.
“Nice place - quiet in the morning ”
Go to this place early in the morning, when tourists are still in bed or in their hotels. Then the place is quiet and has a good vibration.
“Surprisingly small ”
A rather low key cathedral with little of the ornate vulgarity usually associated with Catholic churches. Completely deserted when we visited and wonderfully cool after the hot sun of old Havana. Worth a visit for the architecture and for the plaza.
“Excellent Architecture ”
The cathedral is awesome and must be seen when in Habana. The street vendors in the square are great for grabbing a quick snack.
“Cuba, It's People & Culture - People to People Program ”
I liked the priest who was from Mexico but doing the work of the Lord in Cuba. There was a coffin with Jesus inside.
“Lovely architecture ”
Lovely architecture and lovely to go inside to see the old Cathedral. You can take photo's inside and out. There was a lady inside who could speak limited English so was able to answer a few questions,
“A Cathedral with realistic scale ”
Located in a corner of Old Havana, the Cathedral is not large but small either. You cannot expect find in a island, in the Caribbean, such imponent gothic structures with the same seal that you can find thru Europe. It is simple a sacred ¨song in stone¨ and not a religious anthem, it is appropiated to the size. It was... More
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