San Francisco de la Habana Basilica

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.

Capitol Building Havana Cuba

National Capitol Building in Havana, designed to emulate the structure of the Panthéon in Paris France, and an almost copy of the U.S. Capitol (the one in Cuba is 2 inches taller). Its interior was the headquarters of Cuba’s government until the overthrow of Batista. The Capitolio Havana has just received extensive refurbishment with a plan to reuse the buildings as the Cuban governments’ senate building.

San Salvador de la Punta Fortress Havana Cuba

San Salvador de la Punta Fortress was constructed in 1590 and in 1629 on the shore opposite to the Castle of El Morro and at the beginning of the curve of El Malecon right at the harbor entrance. At night a thick chain was held between San Salvador de la Punta Fortress and the El Morro fortress to prevent the incursion of enemy ships into the Havana harbor.

Castillo del Morro Havana Cuba

A perfect view of Old Havana is gleaned from Castillo del Morro. The “Morro” as it is known locally is a picturesque fortress protecting the entrance to Havana bay. The structure of the castle Los Tres Reyes del Morro is built in such a way de to the step along the harbor mount in Havana. Commissioned by the king of Spain the big stone slabs used were known locally as El Morro stone, from which the name was derived. Military man Juan de Texeda was sent by the king of Spain accompanied by the military engineer Battista Antonelli, both arrived in Havana in 1587 and began the task of building the Castillo del Morro.