Among all the magnificent sights in Havana, one of the most popular ones is the San Cristobal Cathedral in the Old City.
Havana basically consists of stunning buildings, and yet, you sometimes have to pay a little attention when you are walking the narrow streets of especially Old Havana.
You may easily pass by some historic treasure while walking around. There are so many pieces and details all around, it may all become a little overload for the senses.
It is actually possible to miss The Havana Cathedral, or Catedral de San Cristobal, dependent on which direction you are coming from. If you are walking slowly up Calle Tejadillo and accidentally turning left at the crossroads for example.
From here, you might miss the Plaza de la Catedral entirely, and the grand facade and entrance to the cathedral will not make it to tour side-sight.
Cathedral San Cristobal Havana
Catedral de San Cristobal is not only one of the most popular sights of Old Havana, it is one of eleven catholic cathedrals in Cuba.
The cathedral is located between the streets of San Ignacio and Mercaderes in Old Havana and is set in what used to be called Plaza de La Ciénaga. This is because it is built on what used to be an actual swamp; a “ciénaga”.
The cathedral was built in the 18th century between 1748 and 1777 over almost 30 years. It is currently the seat of the roman catholic archdiocese of San Cristobal de la Habana.
On the seaside side of the structure lies the Parque Luz Caballero with a view over the bay of Havana.
You can see the beautiful Fortaleza de San Carlos from this park right across the canal. (The Fortaleza also is a place you would want to visit while in Havana).
The façade of Catedral San Cristobal is in baroque style, and there are lots of details and a powerful expression made out of coral stone and on the large wooden doors leading into the interior of the cathedral.
Also read: 33 Things To Do In Havana Cuba
Interior Makeover Of The San Cristobal Altars
A bishop named Espada who was a fervent admirer of Neoclassicism was in charge of remodeling the interior of the cathedral. The original wood ceilings were plastered over during this process, and the cathedral on the inside today is described as almost a little simple looking. You will have to judge for yourself if you visit.
Christopher Columbus’s remains were actually kept here in the cathedral in the late 18th century. Later they were moved to the Seville cathedral. The remains of Columbus were returned to Spain in 1898 after the Spanish – American War and Cuban War of Independence.
In the early-19th century, the baroque altars inside were also replaced, and in their place were fitted neoclassical style ones.
You can read about the History of Cuba from the last part of the 19th Century and the struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire HERE if you like!.
Also read: Why You Should Visit Cuba Now!
Plaza De La Catedral Havana Video
Below is a video from a pre-pandemic summer day in the Plaza de la Catedral! Here you can get a sneak peek at the inside of the cathedral, and also what the Plaza looks like.
As you see there normally is a lot of life, restaurants, and music in the Plaza de la Catedral. Make sure to put it on your list for visiting Havana Vieja.
Do you have any questions about Cuba? Leave a comment, or send me an e-mail! Happy to help!
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