Among the four colonial squares of Havana (Plaza Vieja, the Cathedral, Arms Square …), the Saint Francis of Assisi Square is the closest to the sea. It was built during the XVI century looking towards the port of Havana, to receive the Spanish galleons in their passage through the colonies.
The entire square is paved. In the center we can see an amazing fountain with water called Fuente de Los Leones. It is one of the most beautiful in all of Havana, made in white marble by a famous Italian sculptor in 1836. Also visible is the Market Hall (Lonja del Comercio), covered by a dome. In front of the square is the Sierra Maestra Station, from where boats depart with tourists. It is also the entry point of the cruises that arrive to the Island.
Initially a market was installed in this square and years later a church was built: the Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. Currently, the Minor Basilica of the Convent serves as a concert hall for classical music. In the convent is located the Museum of Religious Art that shows diverse objects of religious and archaeological character. The rooms and galleries show works by Cuban and foreign artists, lectures, presentations and other national and international events.
On one side of the Church, there is a beautiful garden in honor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and where sculptures by contemporary artists are shown. On the other side, we find a life-size statue of the Knight of Paris, a peculiar character very popular in the 1950’s in Havana. Tourists and locals enjoy taking pictures lying on this statue.
For visit: Avenida del Puerto y Oficios street, Old Havana, La Habana (“23.13756, -82.3486”). Free access daily.
by: Leunam Rodríguez