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Obra Pia House, Havana . Cuba

  • Obrapia 158 Esq. Mercaderes, Old Havana. Cuba
  • Destination: Havana
  • Open: Daily
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This house is one of the greater distinctions at the colonial time. At the moment of its renovation some elements and forms of what is called Cuban baroque were introduced.

The house is the result of the fusion of two adjoining properties. It has a spacious courtyard, surrounded by a gallery by three of its sides with stone arches and columns. In its construction highlights a great diversity of arches: trilobites and splayed arches, arches formed by an exact semicircle and basket-handle arches contrasting with the chromaticism of the friezes.

The house’s façade is a unique and original example in its design. It was conceived and carried out in Cadiz in the year 1686. The sumptuous door contrasts with the simple bareness of the colossal façade.

Also, it is remarkable a kind of attic or third floor, apparently for the rooms of the domestic staff.

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.

Built in 1648, it is one of the most remarkable examples of domestic architecture in Havana. The portico, crowned with the family coat of arms, is the only one in the city.

This house and the street where its main façade is located, own their names to Martin Calvo who established in 1669 the door of a charitable institution (Obra Pía) aimed at giving economic support, every year, to five orphan girls that can create their own families.

Now as a house-museum, its objective is to exhibit and preserve important museum collections that are part of the history of Cuba.

This institution also intends to rescue and promote traditions such as the ones related to textile handicraft. For that purpose, the Sisterhood of Embroiderers and Weavers has its seat in this mansion since 1994.

At the moment, the museum has nine permanent exhibition rooms and one for transitory exhibitions. In the rooms people can see the way of life of aristocracy in Havana in the 19th century through different collections of decorative arts objects such as pieces of china; oil paintings; biscuit pieces; glassware; tapestries; marble, alabaster, calamine or bronze sculptures. There are also utility objects, furniture, personal objects and archeological pieces in exhibition. Among these rooms the Chapel stands out. Its pieces of furniture are true pieces of art in marble and wood.

The museum also displays a collection of pieces of French china, which belonged to different Cuban families of the 19th century, and lingerie in tablecloths, glass holders, and napkins. One piece that catches the attention of all visitors is the family tree of José Ignacio de la Cámara de O’Reilly Morel de Santa Cruz.

The precious white and gray marble of the floor, the great colonial lamps made of rock and baccarat glass as well as a variety of oil paintings, stand out in the main room.

The Room of Mysteries, a room that has been associated to several legends and whose original use is still an enigma today, is located on the roof of the house.

Mapa de Obra Pia House

Obra Pia House 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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