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Architecture

Cuba's magnificent architecture spans five centuries, and the entire length and breadth of the island. No matter where you're travelling, you will find an eclectic assortment of colonial, baroque, neogothic, neoclassical, art deco, modern and post-modern architectural styles.

It's hard to beat a walking tour of Habana Vieja [Old Havana], a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site with over 900 buildings of historical significance. Highlights include the Catedral de la Habana [Havana Cathedral], the gorgeous Iglesia de la Merced and Havana's oldest cathedral, Iglesia Parroquial del Espíritu Santo.

For an architectural feast, don’t miss Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, a 19th century sugar town. UNESCO has essay writer declare Trinidad and the nearby Valle de los Ingenios [Sugar Mill Valley] a World Heritage site.

In Santiago de Cuba, the Castillo de San Pedro del Morro, considered the best-preserved 17th century Spanish military complex in the Caribbean, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Also recognized by UNESCO: the Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos, with its beautiful neoclassical buildings; and the Historic Centre of Camagüey.


Baracoa

Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia

Mingle with the locals in this small triangular plaza also known as Parque Centra. It features a bust of the legendary Indian leader Hatuey.

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

This historic church was built in 1833 on the site of an older church. It houses the famous Parra Cross, which is believed to be the only material evidence of Christopher Columbus arriving here in 1492.

El Castillo de Seboruco

El Castillo de Seboruco

Stop by to see the great view of El Yunque, or spend the night at this Spanish fort that has been converted into the Hotel El Castillo.

Fuerte de la Punta

Fuerte de la Punta - Architecture

You can have lunch or dinner inside this fort that has been protecting Baracoa’s harbour since 1803.

Fuerte Matachín

Fuerte Matachín

This Spanish fort located at the southern entrance of the town was built in 1802, and now houses the Museo Municipal.

La Farola

Take a drive along this famous highway that winds deep into the mountains near Cajobabo, the beach where national hero José Martí disembarked in 1895. The scenic road has 11 bridges suspended over the abyss and is listed as one of the seven wonders of Cuban architecture.


Camagüey

General Ignacio Agramonte Revolution Square

General Ignacio Agramonte Revolution Square

Pope John Paul II officiated a mass here in January 1998. The public square honours the region’s most prominent freedom fighters of the 19th century.

Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

Don’t miss the wooden alfarje ceiling and wonderfully painted pillars adorning this church, built in 1776. It is a beautiful example of Cuban Baroque architecture.

Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Merced

Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Merced

This magnificent Baroque church, built in 1748, features an ornate, decorated ceiling and the dazzling Santo Sepulcro, crafted from 23,000 silver coins. It is the only church in the region to boast two towers.

Iglesia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

Iglesia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

Visitors are intrigued by the elaborate gilt altar, frescoes and stunning wooden ceiling at this church built in 1755.

Plaza del Carmen

Plaza del Carmen

Baroque and neoclassical influences are evident in this public square built in the early 19th century. Ceramic statues representing everyday life line the charming cobblestone plaza.

Plaza San Juan de Dios

Plaza San Juan de Dios

This 18th-century square, a jewel of Cuban colonial architecture, has been declared a national monument. Here you'll find the San Juan de Dios Church and Hospital (now a museum), a striking building erected in 1728 and updated in 1847. Its highest altar is made of precious wood from 1792, and it features a rare anthropomorphic representation of the Holy Spirit (one of only two in Latin America).

Parque Ignacio Agramonte

Parque Ignacio Agramonte

Camagüey’s main park encompasses part of the former Plaza de Armas, built in 1528. Highlights include an imposing bronze equestrian statue of General Agramonte and the Metropolitan Cathedral, a historic church built in 1617 that features a tower with an image of Christ, added in 1937. The park also contains the Julio Antonio Mella Provincial Library, and the Philharmonic Society of Puerto Principe, erected in the 19th century.


Cienfuegos

Teatro Tomás Terry

This beautiful theatre located on the north side of Parque José Martí is a wonderful example of Creole architecture. It was erected in 1869 in honour of Tomás Terry, a Venezuelan industrialist.

Malecón

No visit to Cienfuegos is complete without a drive along the Malecón, the seaside road that offers panoramic views of the city’s sparkling coastline and vibrant nightlife.

National Monuments

Cienfuegos - National Monuments

Cienfuegos is home to 11 sites that have been declared national monuments, including the old Reina Cemetery.

Castillo de Jagua

Located a short ferry ride away from Cienfuegos, this 18th century fortress is widely regarded as one of Cuba’s most important military structures. It still has a working drawbridge and now houses a small museum... as well as its own ghost, the notorious ‘Lady in Blue.’

Palacio de Valle

Wander through an ornate palace, built in 1917 by Alcisclo Valle Blanco, a Spaniard from Asturias.

Catedral de la Purísima Concepción

Catedral de la Purísima Concepción

Also framing Parque José Marti is this neoclassical cathedral. It was built in 1869, and boasts striking French stained glass windows and prominent twin towers.

Casa del Fundador

Casa del Fundador

This former home of Cienfuegos founder Don Louis D’Clouet is located on the southeastern corner of Parque José Marti. The city’s oldest building has since been converted into a souvenir shop.

Casa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte

Casa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte

Soak up the panoramic views from atop this building on the western side of Parque José Martí. The distinctive domed rooftop cupola has a staircase visitors can climb.

Arco de Triunfo

Cienfuego has been called ‘the Paris of Cuba’ so it is only fitting that the city has its own ‘Arc de Triomphe’ – the only one in Cuba. Located in the Parque José Martí, the arch is dedicated to Cuban independence.


Granma

Ruinas de la Quema de Bayamo

Ruinas de la Quema de Bayamo

See remnants of Bayamo’s Fire at this exhibit in the Plaza del Himno.

Plaza de la Patria (Bayamo)

Plaza de la Patria

Pay tribute to Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, known as the Father of our Homeland, at this plaza.

Plaza del Himno

Plaza del Himno

This plaza commemorates the first time the National Anthem was sung publicly, on October 20, 1868. It was composed by Perucho Figueredo. Since 1980, October 20th was proclaimed the Day of Cuban Culture.

Luz Vázquez’s Window

Luz Vázquez’s Window

See where the revolutionary song “Lay Bayamesa” was sung for the first time at this former home of Luz Vázquez. A ceremony is held here every Saturday at 9 p.m.

Plaza de la Revolución

Plaza de la Revolución

Framed by statues of General García, José Joaquín Palma, Canducha Figueredo and Antonio Maceo, this square was originally called Plaza de Armas. It was renamed the Plaza de la Revolución in 1898, after Major General Calixto García’s army took over Bayamo.

Capilla La Dolorosa

Capilla La Dolorosa

Visit Bayamo’s Plaza del Himno to see this charming Baroque chapel built between 1733 and 1740.

Retablo de los Héroes

Retablo de los Héroes

This bronze statue of Francisco Vicente Aguilera, the former mayor of Bayamo, was sculpted in 1954, and features a marble base. The statue is lined with 33 medallions in honour of outstanding Bayamo personalities.

Perucho Figueredo Monument

Perucho Figueredo Monument

Be sure to see the impressive granite marble bust of Figueredo, who composed the National Anthem. You’ll find it in Bayamo’s Plaza de la Revolución.

Celia Sánchez Monument (Manzanillo)

Celia Sánchez Monument

This homage to Fidel Castro’s heroine was built in 1990, and features a terracotta-tiled staircase featuring colourful ceramic murals. Climb to the top for great views of the city.

Iglesia de la Purísima Concepción (Manzanillo)

Iglesia de la Purísima Concepción

Gaze up at the distinctive twin bell towers atop this church erected in 1805. Be sure to step inside to see the impressive gilded altarpiece.

Parque Céspedes (Manzanillo)

Parque Céspedes

Be sure to see this busy central square’s centerpiece: the glorieta, a unique, beautifully ornamented gazebo/bandstand.

San Salvador de Bayamo Church (Bayamo)

San Salvador de Bayamo Church

This site has housed a church since 1514. The current incarnation was erected in 1740, but lost some of its architectural details in the fire of 1869. A church has existed on this site since 1514. The church features a central arch with a mural commemorating the blessing of the Demajagua Flag and the first performance of the National Anthem in 1868.


Havana

El Capitolio (The Capitol)

The iconic dome of what was once the congressional building is a classic Havana landmark. Embedded in the floor directly beneath the dome is a 24-carat diamond (replica). The distance between Havana and all other Cuban destinations is marked from this point.

Paseo del Prado (Prado Avenue)

Paseo del Prado

Once the central artery of the city, the Prado (also known as the Paseo de Martí), is a boulevard with a distinctly European feel. This is where you'll find the renowned national ballet school.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba (The National Hotel)

Hotel Nacional de Cuba (The National Hotel)

More than just a wonderful place to stay, the grand hotel is an art deco landmark, with magnificent gardens overlooking the Malecón.

Plaza de San Francisco de Asís

Plaza de San Francisco de Asís

First established in the 1500s, this is one of the oldest areas of Havana. The famous Fountain of Lions, carved from Carrara marble, overlooks the seafront. The convent of San Fransisco de Asís now holds a beautiful collection of sacred art and artifacts.

Plaza Vieja

Plaza Vieja

Built in 1559, this square offers a wonderfully eclectic mix of Havana's architectural styles. It served as the city's bustling social centre for centuries.

Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square)

Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square)

The beautiful baroque buildings of this square, built in the 18th century, include the Catedral de la Habana, described as 'music set in stone' by Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier.

Plaza de Armas (Square of Arms)

Plaza de Armas (Square of Arms)

Feast your eyes on the glorious neoclassical architecture at Havana’s oldest square, built in the 1520s. A highlight is the Museo de la Ciudad, one of Cuba’s most comprehensive museums, located inside the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Make your way over to the sea-facing side of the plaza to take in the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the oldest remaining fort in the Americas, erected in the mid-1500s.

El Templete

El Templete

Visit the site of Havana’s first mass and its first town council meeting at this neoclassical chapel located in the Plaza de Armas. Each year, on November 16, locals gather here to observe the anniversary of these momentous occasions.

Cathedrals and Churches

Divine architectural inspirations ranging from intricately baroque to elegantly neoclassical, the city's most celebrated churches include Catedral de la Habana (Havana Cathedral), the gorgeous Iglesia de la Merced and Havana's oldest cathedral, Iglesia Parroquial del Espíritu Santo.

Habana Vieja (Old Havana)

Habana Vieja (Old Havana)

Old Havana has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its dazzling array of baroque , neoclassical and art deco architecture. This area of the city boasts over 900 buildings of historical as well as architectural significance.

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Parque Histórica Militar Morro-Cabaña (Morro-Cabaña Historic Military Park)

Parque Histórica Militar Morro-Cabaña (Morro-Cabaña Historic Military Park)

Cuba’s military history comes alive at the two museums located here. The park contains El Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro (The Castle of the Three Kings of El Morro), built in 1630, and the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, from 1774. Don't miss the firing of the cannons, a traditional ceremony complete with soldiers in old-style uniforms, nightly at 9pm.


Holguin

Catedral de San Isidoro

This building was erected in 1720, making it one of the city’s oldest buildings. It is best known for its distinctive towers.

Plaza de la Revolución

Plaza de la Revolución - Holguin

You can pay your respects to Cuban heroes at this commemorative square, featuring an array of monuments dedicated to the heroes of Cuba’s struggle for independence. Stop by General Calixto García’s tomb.


Las Tunas

Martí Square

This distinctive square in the city of Las Tunas was designed by architect Domingo Alas Rosell and features an eye-catching sundial encrusted in gold. Shadows from the sundial mark significant dates in José Martí’s history, culminating with a sunbeam that lights up the bronze statue’s face at 2:30 p.m. on May 19, commemorating the moment Martí died in battle at Dos Ríos.

La Loma Fortress

Visit this fortress, strategically located on top of a hill, for a great view of Puerto Padre.

Plaza de la Revolución

See the imposing sculpture of war hero Vicente García, which stands tall in this huge plaza.


Pinar del Río

Las Terrazas

This sustainable village, built some forty years ago on the slopes of the Sierra del Rosario mountains, is home to several art studios and the house where renowned Cuban musician Polo Montañez was born.


Santa Lucia

General Ignacio Agramonte Revolution Square

General Ignacio Agramonte Revolution Square

Pope John Paul II officiated a mass here in January 1998. The public square honours the region’s most prominent freedom fighters of the 19th century.

Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

Don’t miss the wooden alfarje ceiling and wonderfully painted pillars adorning this church, built in 1776. It is a beautiful example of Cuban Baroque architecture.

Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Merced

Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Merced

This magnificent Baroque church, built in 1748, features an ornate, decorated ceiling and the dazzling Santo Sepulcro, crafted from 23,000 silver coins. It is the only church in the region to boast two towers.

Iglesia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

Iglesia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

Visitors are intrigued by the elaborate gilt altar, frescoes and stunning wooden ceiling at this church built in 1755.

Plaza del Carmen

Plaza del Carmen

Baroque and neoclassical influences are evident in this public square built in the early 19th century. Ceramic statues representing everyday life line the charming cobblestone plaza.

Plaza San Juan de Dios

Plaza San Juan de Dios

This 18th-century square, a jewel of Cuban colonial architecture, has been declared a national monument. Here you'll find the San Juan de Dios Church and Hospital (now a museum), a striking building erected in 1728 and updated in 1847. Its highest altar is made of precious wood from 1792, and it features a rare anthropomorphic representation of the Holy Spirit (one of only two in Latin America).

Parque Ignacio Agramonte

Parque Ignacio Agramonte

Camagüey’s main park encompasses part of the former Plaza de Armas, built in 1528. Highlights include an imposing bronze equestrian statue of General Agramonte and the Metropolitan Cathedral, a historic church built in 1617 that features a tower with an image of Christ, added in 1937. The park also contains the Julio Antonio Mella Provincial Library, and the Philharmonic Society of Puerto Principe, erected in the 19th century.


Santiago de Cuba

Parque Histórico-Militar El Morro

The best time to visit this magnificent 17th century castle overlooking Santiago Bay is at dusk, when uniformed soldiers fire a canon.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre

Climb to the top of the chapel here to visit the famous La Virgen, a small statue found floating in the bay during a storm in the 1600s. This church is a sacred pilgrimage site situated on a hill 20 km northwest of Santiago.

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Although not the original cathedral erected on this site in the 1520s, this beautiful church, built in 1922, is one of the city’s most important (and impressive) religious buildings.

Casa de Diego Velázquez

The oldest house in Cuba, this residence was built in 1522 to house Cuba’s first governor, Diego Velázquez.

Parque Céspedes

Visit the historically significant buildings that encircle this bustling square, including the Catedral de la Asunción and the Casa de Diego Velázquez.

Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro

UNESCO called this World Heritage Site the “most complete and best-preserved example of Spanish-military architecture based on Italian and Renaissance design principles.”

Plaza de la Revolución

Gaze up at this plaza’s centrepiece: an imposing statue of war hero General Antonio Maceo.

Cementerio Santa Ifigenia

Pay your respects to Cuban military heroes Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and José Martí at this ornate cemetery.

The Moncada Barracks

This former military enclave has been converted into a school, and is also home to the revolutionary museum, the Museo Histórico 26 de Julio.


Trinidad

Antigua Convento de San Francisco de Asís

This is the classic postcard-view of Trinidad: the bell tower of the ancient convent, rising above the rooftops with the green slopes of the Escambray Mountains as a backdrop. Climb the tower for a commanding view of the old town.

Ermita de la Popa (The Popa Hermitage)

Visit this notable church inspired by Spanish maritime tradition. Its elevated perch was chosen so it could be seen from the sea.

Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills)

Board a steam train for a trip through the valley that houses the ruins of 70 historic sugar mills, just east of Trinidad. Make sure to climb the Iznaga Tower, which offers a stunning view of the region.

Plaza Mayor

This city square is the home of several richly decorated palaces that have been converted into museums, like the Museo Histórico Municpal and the Museo de Arquitectura Trinitaria. Here you can also find the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad, which houses the famed Christ of the True Cross from 1713.


Varadero

Plaza de la Vigía

Plaza de la Vigía

Matanzas was founded here in the late 17th century, and all the city's main avenues branch out from this historic town square. Landmarks include the Teatro Sauto, Junco Palace Museum, Palacio Justicia (Provincial Court), Fire Department building and Edíciones Vigía, a publisher of beautiful, limited-edition books.

Castillo de San Severino

Castillo de San Severino

This imposing structure, completed by the mid-1700s, provided the city's main defense.

Castillo del Morrillo

Castillo del Morrillo

History buffs will want to stop here. This fortress contains an archaeological museum as well as the mausoleum of two revolutionaries, Guiteras Homes and Carlos Aponte Hernández.

Museo Farmacéutico (Le Triolet French Pharmacy)

Museo Farmacéutico (Le Triolet French Pharmacy)

This immaculately preserved building was erected in 1882, and is still stocked with utensils, flasks and medicines from days gone by. Everything is protected under glass on the store’s original shelves made of hand-finished Cuban wood.


Villa Clara

Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara

Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara

Visit the mausoleum containing the remains of famous revolutionary and the other guerillas that were killed during the Bolivian revolution attempt. The site also hosts a monument and museum dedicated to Che Guevara’s life.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen

This church located north of Parque Vidal was erected in 1748, with its distinctive tower added in 1846. The sizeable monument out front commemorates Santa Clara’s creation in 1689.