Decorated with exquisite frescoes, this 18th-century religious monument is one of several Baroque masterpieces that frame the resplendent Cathedral Square.
Havana Cathedral (Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana) is a marvelous example of Baroque architecture and one of Havana’s finest churches. Visit the cathedral to observe its extravagant design and spot frescoes by notable artists. Jesuits started work on Havana Cathedral in 1748. It was eventually completed in 1777. Curiously, Christopher Columbus’ remains were kept in the cathedral between 1796 and 1898, before being taken to Seville Cathedral.
Stand in Cathedral Square and look up at the church’s Baroque exterior. It features pediments and curving aspects that flow into pilasters topped by capitals. Note the asymmetrical bell towers that frame the façade. They were constructed specifically to encourage rainfall to run into the streets around the square, which itself stands on a former swamp.
The cathedral’s architects used coral for much of the building material. It’s possible to see fossilized marine fauna and flora in the stone walls.
Walk through the thick wooden door to discover an austere interior. It has rows of thick columns and a floor of black and white marble tiles. Look for replicas of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo located in the chapels. Behind the altar are frescoes by Giuseppe Perovanni. See a 17th-century statue of St. Christopher by Martin Andújar.
Climb to the top of one of the towers and enjoy views of the square and Canal de Entrada. Spot other notable landmarks such as the Casa del Conde de Casa Bayona and Palacio del Conde de Lombillo. Admire the vivid colors of the market vendors, many of whom dress in traditional Cuban clothing.
Situated on Cathedral Square, this attraction is in the heart of the Old Havana neighborhood. It’s quick and easy to get here by foot from other major attractions. Among these are the Museum of the Revolution, Plaza de Armas and Plaza Vieja.
Havana Cathedral is open daily and admission is free. A nominal fee is applicable if you want to climb the tower.