Catedral de San Cristobal, or San Cristobal Cathedral, is one of eleven catholic cathedrals in Cuba. Among all the magnificent buildings in Havana, this cathedral is one of the most popular ones to visit.
Havana basically consists of stunning buildings, although some of the beautiful details are hard to spot behind the wear and tear of the exterior.
You have to pay a little extra attention when you are walking the narrow streets to see everything, especially in Old Havana.
There are so many pieces and details all around it may all become a little overload for the senses.
You may even pass by some historic treasures while walking around, like the Cathedral Plaza if you miss a turn. It took me weeks to confidently find my way around Old Havana when I moved here,
San Cristobal Cathedral In Havana
It is actually possible to miss The Havana Cathedral, or Catedral de San Cristobal, depending on which direction you are coming from.
If you are walking slowly up Calle Tejadillo and accidentally turning left at the crossroads, for example.
Take a wrong turn in this narrow street, and you might not find the entrance to the cathedral square!
The cathedral is located between the streets of San Ignacio and Mercaderes in Old Havana and is located on Plaza de la Catedral, a plaza that used to be called Plaza de La Ciénaga.
The Havana Cathedral Is Built On A Swamp!
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, which is over almost 30 years old. 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 is also 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 on the large wooden doors leading into the interior of the cathedral.
Also read: 42+ Amazing 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 the 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: Best Tours In Havana Cuba 2024!
Wrap-Up San Cristobal Cathedral Havana
San Cristobal is not only one of the oldest, most prominent architectural structures in Old Havana, but it is also situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the city.
This cathedral holds so much history, both about the capital of Cuba and about the religious development and merger of two very different religions!
Whether you are religious, interested in history, or just like to explore new destinations, make sure you make a stop here and walk around and notice the details from two continents and several centuries.
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