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article imagePhoto Essay: Cathedral Square in Old Havana, Cuba Special

By Igor I. Solar     Oct 26, 2013 in Travel
Havana - The “Plaza de la Catedral”, located not far from Old Havana’s Main Plaza, is the best known square in Havana and is considered one of the most beautiful and harmonious in Latin America. The mansions surrounding the plaza date from the XVIII century.
Until the early seventeenth century, the place where Cathedral Square is now located was a swampy terrain receiving part of the water runoff from the city, thus it was initially known as Swamp Square. Since the mid-seventeenth century, measures were taken to dry the ground, and the granting of properties in that location was prohibited in order to reserve the land for the expansion of the square.
In 1748, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of what would become one of the most important religious buildings in Havana. It was the Oratory and Convent of the Sons of St. Ignatius of the Order of the Jesuits. Following the suppression of the Society of Jesus from the Spanish Empire in 1767, the church became the Cathedral of Havana. In 1778, the Cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, whose image stands at the Main Altar. The construction was completed in 1832. The Cathedral is also dedicated to San Cristóbal (Saint Christopher); hence it is sometimes called the Cathedral of Saint Christopher.
Cathedral Square and the Cathedral of St. Christopher in Old Havana. Note the Baroque architecture o...
Cathedral Square and the Cathedral of St. Christopher in Old Havana. Note the Baroque architecture of the central section of the church and the uneven width of the lateral bell towers.
General view of the main nave of Havana Cathedral.
General view of the main nave of Havana Cathedral.
The facade of the Cathedral is flanked by two bell towers of asymmetrical dimensions. One of the towers is significantly wider than the other. The cathedral, of Baroque-Tuscan style, forms a rectangle of 34 by 36 meters, divided into three naves with large pillars and eight side chapels. The floor is tiled of black and white marble.
Beautiful lamps  frescoes and religious figures adorn the Cathedral of Havana.
Beautiful lamps, frescoes and religious figures adorn the Cathedral of Havana.
Main Altar  Cathedral of Havana.
Main Altar, Cathedral of Havana.
Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception at Havana Cathedral.
Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception at Havana Cathedral.
Opposite the cathedral is the beautiful square surrounded by elegant mansions formerly occupied by the nobility of colonial Havana. In 1982, the “Plaza de la Catedral de San Cristóbal”, along with the Fortifications and other historic sites of Old Havana, such as the Main Square and the Palace of the General Captains, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Opposite the cathedral is the beautiful square surrounded by elegant mansions formerly occupied by t...
Opposite the cathedral is the beautiful square surrounded by elegant mansions formerly occupied by the nobility of colonial Havana.
More about Old Havana, Cathedral Square, Havana Cuba, Religious architecture, Catholic Church
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