The Plaza de Armas, generator point of the city of Havana
By Julia Muñoz
The Plaza de Armas constitutes the starting point of the city of Havana, founded in 519. Its layout evokes the fortified squares of medieval Europe and in its perimeter were the headquarters of the civil and military authorities in colonial times, as well as the parish church of the City.
Since its inception, it was a meeting place for the inhabitants of the primitive town and its fundamental institutions surrounding it. It is believed that, on one of its sides, this square opened towards the bay to facilitate the work of landing and dock, in a way that anticipated one of the provisions established for colonial port cities: the square next to the jetty, open to the sea by one of its flanks.
In the Plaza de Armas you can see the monumental complex El Templete, built in 1828 on the site where the first mass and the first town hall were supposedly celebrated in Havana in 1519.
Since 1955, the statue of the Father of the Nation, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, made by Cuban artist Sergio López Mesa, occupies the pedestal where the Spanish monarch Fernando VII stood and gives the square its name.
In addition to El Templete, other buildings of great historical importance are found around this space. The Palace of the General Captains, the Palace of the Second Corporal, the House of the Counts of Santovenia and the Museum of Natural History.
The Plaza is currently an open square, of regular dimensions, shaded by trees, with stone benches, small fountains and a marble sculpture in its center. It is a place of recurrent visits by national and foreign tourists.