[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Old Havana or Habana Vieja is the Old quarter of Havana, founded by the Spanish in 1519 and constructed around the natural harbor of the Bay of Havana. A major mooring point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons that crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean between the New World and the Old World. In the 17th century it was one of the main shipbuilding centers of the new world hosting a massive shipyard to both build new and repair old vessels from the Spanish fleets.
In 1982, La Habana Vieja was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List, primarily for its well preserved colonial architecture and historic significance. Since that time Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler and his team at OHC (Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana) have tirelessly renovated Old Havana building by building to bring it back to its past splendor.
See our impressive list of Hotels and Casa Particulares in Old Havana[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
San Francisco de la Habana Basilica, Habana Vieja, the setting for the church and convent of San Francisco de Asis, built in 1608, and reconstructed in 1737. The church was used by the English during the year in which they ruled Havana. Upon return to Spanish rule, they decided not to use it as a church anymore. Today it is used for numerous concerts held in the city. Attached to the Basilica is a bell tower 42 meters high (138-ft). Originally a statue of St. Francis of Assisi stood on the top of the bell tower but it was destroyed by a cyclone in 1846. Today a statue of Fray Junipero Serra with Juaneño, an Indian boy stands next to the basilica and is popular tourist attraction in Old Havana
Next to the convent is the Plaza de San Francisco or San Francisco Square which took its name from the convent next to it, this square was built in 1628, with the objective of supplying water to the ships and facilitating trade within Havana City. For several decades it also served to stockpile the goods and merchandize arriving from the Havana harbor. Archives of the time say that the square had a prosperous commercial life and was a big asset to the then fledgling Havana City. The people, in humble carts or afoot, sold and bought a variety of goods from sea merchants displaying their imported goods. It’s also an important historical fact to that similar to Ellis Island in the United States, Spanish immigrants were logged and registered after their arrival in Cuba at this square. The Plaza de San Francisco square is now popular with tourists, featuring numerous Havana restaurants and café bars. It stands in front of the Lonja de Comercio and the Havana Cruise port.