Text & photos: Roberto F. Campos
Located south of the Plaza de Armas and adjacent to the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the street runs all the way from the shores of Havana Bay to Monserrate street.
Obispo is crossed by Baratillo, Oficios, Mercaderes, San Ignacio, Cuba, Aguiar, Habana, Compostela, Aguacate, Villegas and Bernaza, streets named after professions, important figures or lifestyles.
History records that Obispo, meaning “bishop”, was previously called San Juan because it led to the 1794 built church of San Juan de Letrán del Consulado.
It was later renamed Obispo because two bishops, Fray Jerónimo de Lara and Pedro Agustín Morell de Santa Cruz, resided there at different times.
An 1897 name change to Weyler Street was rejected by the people of Havana, who in 1898 destroyed the signs identifying it by that name.
In 1905 it was named Pi Margall, in honour of a passionate defender of Cuba’s rights in Spain. In 1936 Havana’s original street names were restored and it was once again labelled Obispo.
The street had its own entrance gate until the old city walls were demolished on August 8, 1863.
The earliest residences on Obispo, when it formed the original urban centre of the newly-formed settlement, were made from palm tree leaves.
Over time these were replaced by stone built and tile-roofed homes. Obispo is presently an attractive and charming pedestrian street, always bustling with people from every corner of the globe who delight in both the ancient and the modern cityscape scenes it majestically projects.