To go sightseeing in Havana means also visiting the Plaza de la Catedral, a virtuous place with cobbled streets, full of beauty and senses, a place where thousands of people from all over the world get together each month, as tourist guides recall it.
Across its atrium, dinners and celebrations are held, sponsored by the gastronomy of the El Patio Restaurant, very frequented by the deceased Cuban famous writer José Lezama Lima.
Originally know as Plaza de la Ciénaga (Swamp Square), and then named “Plaza de la Catedral” (“Cathedral Square“), it is a place that has much to do with the origines of the capital city, settled definitively on the 16th of November 1519 along the Puerto de Carenas (Havana’s harbour), or Bahía de la Habana.
The name is due to a large cathedral built first as oratory of the Hijos de San Ignacio, of the Jesuit order, which first stone was placed in 1748.
After three decades the oratory was built, the Cathedral was already functioning, and between 1802 and 1832, important restoration works were made. Beautifully decorated, with important works and copies made by the French Jean Baptiste Vermay, it is a place worth visiting.
It features the chapel of Nuestra Señora de Loreto, consecrated by the bishop Morell de Santa Cruz in 1755, and many more curiosities, for believers and lovers of art and culture as well.
And as an additional touch, since 1994, as an initiative of the tourist company Habaguanex S.A., its square holds dinners, official gatherings and for amusement too (chosen by important enterprises and agencies), related to travel and emblematic products such as the Habanos. The view is marvellous, to a very well preserved architecture, the cultural richness of the Cuban and the food-making in the restaurants in the surroundings.
As a special feature, one of the nearby alleys is the seat of the most famous Cuban restaurant: La Bodeguita del Medio which reaffirms its quality after serving for more than 60 years since its foundation.
It is an emblematic restaurant for the Cuban tourism, with the walls full of around two million autographs of all clients from different time periods, and photographs left by outstanding figures such as Ernest Hemingway, Mario Benedetti, Pablo Neruda or Errol Fryn.
The list of celebrities is long, including cinema artists, painters, politicians, dancers and musicians, both foreign and Cuban, where this country’s national poet Nicolás Guillén (deceased) had his space too.
Many people spend time chatting in this site which is always amusing due to the presence of guitarists and singers, as it has happened for more than six decades, when its founder Angel Martinez (deceased), used to personally inquire about the likes of his guests.
These places are almost sacred for a demanding tourist who is able to take pictures with his/her camera to take home after a truly amusing holidays. A Cuban feast for the senses. An environment to meditate and live. A perfect place for some leisure and dreaming.
Posted by Alisont L. Pompa Gonzalez