Havana Landmarks and Monuments

(Havana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba)

Most landmarks and sights in Havana are historical and come in the form of buildings that have been 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).

Plaza de Armas

Address: Plaza de Armas, Calle O'Reilly, Havana, Cuba, CU
The Plaza de Armas (Square of Arms) is the main square in Old Havana and stands in the centre of this area, serving as the most historic square in the entire city and dating back some 500 years. This is the very spot where Havana 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.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Callejon de Hamel

Address: Centro, Havana, Cuba, CU
Located between the Calle Espada and the Calle Aramburu Salvador Gonzalez is the Callejon de Hamel - a fun street for the culturally inclined. The street runs for a couple of blocks and is loaded with art work, including murals on an Afro-Cuban theme by Gonzalez. There is also an art gallery and outdoor market with arts and crafts, along with Afro-Cuban dance and music on Sundays.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Castillo de la Real Fuerza

Address: O'Reilly Street 2 / Avenida del Puerto, Havana, Cuba, CU
Tel: +53 07 861 6130
Havana's oldest fort, the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force), hails from the 16th century and is 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.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge

Parque Historico Morro y Cabana

Address: Carretera de La Cabana, Havana, Cuba, CU
Tel: +53 07 863 7063
This historic park lies across the water, where it guards the harbour. 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 is 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. Further highlights onsite include a lighthouse and a warren of old streets.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 20:00
Admission: charge, children aged under 12 years old are free

Plaza de la Catedral

Address: Plaza de la Catedral, Havana, Cuba, CU
Home of the stunning Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana, the Plaza de la Catedral is perhaps Havana's most impressive square. It 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. The square and cathedral are beautifully lit at night, while nearby is the Calle Tacon street market. Other landmarks on the Plaza de la Catedral include the Centro Wilfredo Lam exhibition centre, 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.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Plaza de San Francisco de Asis

Address: Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Havana, Cuba, CU
Fronting the harbour and established as far back as the 16th century, the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis holds an interesting history, with Spanish galleons once alighting here many years ago. 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). Also here is the city's busy cruise terminal (the Terminal Sierra Maestra).
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Plaza Vieja

Address: Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba, CU
Havana's Plaza Vieja was first laid out more than 450 years ago and 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 centre, and the very eye-catching and rather elaborate Palacio Cueto, which has strong Gaudi influences. 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 metres / 115 feet.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Plaza del Cristo

Address: Plaza del Cristo, Havana, Cuba, CU
Lying on the western side of downtown Havana is the Plaza del Cristo, 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. Just a short distance to the south of the Plaza del Cristo are 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.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Plaza de la Revolucion

Address: Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba, CU
Previously known as the Plaza Civica, the Plaza de la Revolucion dates back to the 1920s and was an integral part of the city's new structure and vision. This is a vast space and currently serves as the centre 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).
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

National Capital Building (Capitolio Nacional)

Address: Paseo de Marti, Havana, Cuba, CU
Tel: +53 07 863 7861
Located in Centro Havana, the Capitolio Nacional is a magnificent palatial building completed in just over three years in 1929, following the efforts of a workforce numbering more than 5,000 people. 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.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 20:00
Admission: charge