Plaza del Carmen, an environment full of history and art
By Julia Muñoz photos Jose (Tito) Meriño
Plaza del Carmen, located in the province of Camagüey, in the center of Cuba, was created in the first decades of the 19th century with the aim of opening a space that would highlight the facade of the Church of Our Lady of Carmen, about 600 meters west of Avenida Republica.
History says that before the 19th century, this place was known as the Well of Grace, because there was a very fertile well here, from which the inhabitants took water.
It arose at the initiative of the head of the City Council, José Nicolás Montejo, who around 1825 ordered the demolition of three houses to form this square around the Iglesia del Carmen, then under construction.
The church, currently restored, is the only one of two towers in the city. Its symmetrical façade combines baroque elements with the simplicity of neoclassical compositions. It takes from the architecture of domestic function the exterior pilasters and the interior arches and forms with them one of the most beautiful fronts of Cuban churches.
In it there is a set of sculptural figures, authored by the outstanding plastic artist Martha Jiménez, sculpted in marble, which recreate characters such as the once water seller, the newspaper reader, the gossiping women (chatting) and the couple in love.
All of them in natural size surprise visitors above. Nearby is the Casa del Artesano, a joint establishment of the Cultural Property Fund and the "Caracol" Chain of Stores, designed to promote the production of local artisans.
Along with these works, drinks are promoted, as well as cigars of national production. Another important building is the old Convent of the Ursulines, restored to house the Office of the City Historian.