Most of the famous monuments in Havana are restored from colonial times. There are several noted squares (or plazas) in the town, including the Plaza de la Catedral and the Plaza de Armas. Both contain a wealth of important sights and monuments, such as the ancient cathedral (Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana) and the Castillo de la Real Fuerza fortress. In addition, arty types in Havana should check out the street known as the Callejon de Hammel for its murals and buildings. The Parque Historico Morro y Cabana, across the water, is a complex loaded with fortifications, while the European-style Paseo de Marti (El Prado) boulevard is line with epic landmarks, including the Palacio de Los Matrimonios (Wedding Palace) and the Escuela Nacional de Ballet (National Ballet School). Find here some of the most popular monuments in Havana:
List of Monuments in Havana
1. Capitolio Nacional (National Capital Building)
This iconic monument in Havana is located in Centro Havana. Following the efforts of a workforce numbering more than 5,000 people, the Capitolio Nacional is a magnificent palatial building completed in just over three years in 1929. Topped with a giant dome/cupola and fronted by a line of tall stone Doric columns, the National Capital Building was originally built to function as the seat of the Cuban government/congress. However, following the 1959 revolution, the landmark is today used to house the Cuban Academy of Sciences. The entrance is reached by a giant staircase, leading from the Prado.
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2. Plaza de la Revolucion
The Plaza de la Revolucion, formerly known as the Plaza Civica. It dates back to the 1920s and was an integral part of the city’s new structure and vision. It is counted in one of the most famous monuments in Havana Cuba. This is a vast space and currently serves as the center for the Cuban Government, being fronted by a series of rather bland political and public buildings. Particularly noteworthy is the Ministerio del Interior, the Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti (National Library) and the Teatro Nacional de Cuba (National Theatre).
3. Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis
This building was inaugurated as a church in 1739 and is consecrated to the memory of Saint Francis of Assisi. With its 104-foot (32-meter) tower, it was the tallest building in Havana in the 18th century. The church of choice of the British during their occupation of Havana (1762–1763), was declared desecrated and therefore unfit for worship by the Bishop of Havana when the occupation ended, and it never functioned as a church again.
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4. Callejon de Hamel
This is one of the monuments of Havana also known as Callejon de Hamel is situated between the Calle Espada and the Calle Aramburu Salvador Gonzalez. Callejon de Hamel is known as a fun street for the culturally inclined. The street runs for a couple of blocks and is loaded with artwork, including murals on an Afro-Cuban theme by Gonzalez. Along with Afro-Cuban dance, there is an outdoor market with arts and crafts and music on Sundays. You also get an art gallery here.
5. Castillo de la Real Fuerza
The oldest monuments in Havana, the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force), hails from the 16th century. It is also a must-see landmark in the Centro area, being built to defend the city from the very real threat of pirates. Standing on the westerly side of the harbourfront, this fortress is also the oldest in this part of the world and yet is extremely well preserved – the drawbridge and battlements are particularly well kept. The La Giraldilla weathervane has become the symbol of the city and adorns the front.
6. Morro Castle
Built between the 16th and 17th centuries to protect the city from the attacks of French corsairs and pirates, Morro Castle is strategically located at the entrance of Havana Bay. Build in 1895, It is better known for its lighthouse, which has become one of the foremost symbols of the capital city of Havana.
7. Parque Historico Morro y Cabana
This historic park lies across the water, where it guards the harbor. The Parque Historico Morro y Cabana (Parque Historico Militar Morro-Cabana) comprises a collection of forts and battlements, with the ancient Morro Castle the main sight. Also situated here in the mid-18th-century San Carlos de la Cabana Fort, which is almost like a city in itself and home to exhibition rooms, lookouts, and a café. A lighthouse and a warren of old streets are further highlights of this monument in Havana Cuba.
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8. La Cabana Fortress
Built as part of a project to improve Havana’s protection from foreign attacks after the city was returned to Spain by the British in 1763, this impressive building is the third-biggest colonial fortress in the Americas. A daily ceremony is held at the fortress, reenacting the traditional cannon shot that announced the closure of the city gates at 9 p.m.
9. Plaza de la Catedral
The Plaza de la Catedral, home of the stunning Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana is perhaps Havana’s most impressive square. This famous monument in Havana is very well preserved, and, along with the 18th-century cathedral is the Colonial Arts Museum (Museo de Arte Colonial). Both have been well restored, as have all the other historic buildings fronting the square. While nearby is the Calle Tacon street market the square and cathedral are beautifully lit at night. Other landmarks on the Plaza de la Catedral include the Centro Wilfredo Lam exhibition center, the Casa de Lombillo, the Palacio de Los Marqueses de Aguas Claras, the Palacio de Marques de Arcos, and the Palacio de Los Condes de Casa Bayona.
10. Plaza de San Francisco de Asis
The Plaza de San Francisco de Asis holds an interesting history, with Spanish galleons once alighting here many years ago. This most visited monument in Havana, fronting the harbor and established as far back as the 16th century. Today, the square is surrounded by important landmarks and sightseeing opportunities and has enjoyed recent restoration work. Highlights around the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis include the striking Fountain of Lions (Fuente de Los Leones), the El Cabellero de Paris statue, and the early 18th-century Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asis – an old church now used as a concert hall and venue for the Museum of Religious Art (Museo de Arte Religioso).
11. Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas (Square of Arms) is the main square in Old Havana and stands in the center of this area, serving as the most historic square in the entire city and dating back some 500 years. This top monument in Havana is the very spot where the city itself was founded, and the plaza of today is home to various places of interest, such as the Museum of the City (Museo de la Ciudad), the Castillo de la Real Fuerza fortress and the Palacio de Los Capitales Generales. The Plaza de Armas is to be found close to the waterfront, on O’Reilly Street.
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12. Museum of the City, Old Havana
Considered by many to be the most important Baroque building in Cuba, the old Palace of the Captain-General (the highest representative of the Spanish Crown in Cuba during colonial times) is today the Museum of the City. Built-in 1776, it was the office and home to 65 captain generals, and from 1898 to 1902 it served as the headquarters of the US government during the intervention of Cuba.
13. Plaza Vieja
Havana’s Plaza Vieja was first laid out more than 450 years ago. This best monuments in Havana is where you will discover some of the city’s most striking architecture, known for its art nouveau appearance. This square was formerly named the New Square (Plaza Nueva) and is a good place to find some very decent eateries and bars. As you stroll around the Plaza Vieja, look out for the La Casona Centre de Arte (Casona Art Centre), the Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Brau cultural center. On the north-western side of the plaza is the Camera Obscura attraction, where you can enjoy sweeping views from the top of a tower measuring approximately 35 meters / 115 feet.
14. Plaza del Cristo
The Plaza del Cristo lies on the western side of downtown Havana. It is an old square often passed over by tourists. However, the plaza does have a number of appealing draws, such as its 18th-century church, the Parroquial del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje. If you are looking for popular monuments in Havana just a short distance to the south of the Plaza del Cristo is a cluster of further churches, including the Iglesia y Convento de Santa Clara, the Iglesia y Convento de Nuestra Senora de Belen, and the Iglesia Parroquial del Espiritu Santo. Also close by is the considerably more modern Catedral Ortodoxa Nuestra Senora de Kazan (Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan), which was completed at the end of 2008 and is typically Russian in character.
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