Cathedral Square, where beauty and harmony are combined

Cathedral Square, where beauty and harmony are combined

Heritage & Traditions

By Rose Ross

The Cathedral Square (formerly Swamp Square), is one of the most beautiful in colonial Havana and was the last of the main squares to be built, after Plaza de Armas.

In the second half of the 16th century, some residents built their homes there, calling it "of the Swamp" because the waters that ran along the town to flow into the sea arrived there and flooded with the tides.

For this reason, the first aqueduct of Havana, the Zanja Real, emptied through the hole opened in a wall of the square, a space today known as Stream Alley (Callejón del Chorro). In the eighteenth century it was transformed into one of the fundamental centers of the city, as wealthy families of then Havana society built mansions that still survive.

Its appearance totally changed and its name also changed, becoming Cathedral Square after the old Church of the Society of Jesus, which stands out at one end, elevated to this rank.

Among the buildings that can be found surrounding this square are the House of the Marquis of Arcos, the House of the Marquis of Clear Waters (Aguas Claras), now restaurant El Patio, the House of Don Luis Chacón, Count of Casa Bayona (Colonial Art Museum) and the Palace of Lombillo (currently belongs to the Master Plan for the Revitalization of the Historic Center), among others.

The Cathedral Square, of great architectural beauty and historical value, is a welcoming and monumental place, indissoluble of the Havana soul. It has been the scene of various events of a historical, political and social nature. Artisans, merchants, creators of all manifestations of art and letters, congregated in this Plaza, considered the most attractive and harmonious on the continent.