We are now heading to the final square on our Old Havana walking tour. As we walk through an alleyway, we pass by this mysterious looking face on the wall of Casa del Marqués de Arcos. Once a mansion, it was transformed into Havana’s main post office in the mid-19th century. You’ll spot a few faces along the wall used for mailboxes.
Directly across from Casa del Marqués de Arcos is a mural done by a Cuban artist depicting 67 of Cuba’s historical figures. Various colors of sand and stone mixtures were used to create this mural.
We finally entered Plaza de la Catedral, and as you can see it is a bit more crowded than the previous squares. The streets began to fill with commuters, tourists, and shop keepers as it got later in the day.
The Havana Cathedral is one of eleven Roman Catholic cathedrals on the island.
The square was originally named Plaza de la Ciénaga (Swamp Square), but it was eventually drained and paved, and construction on the cathedral began. Thus a new name was needed.
While the cathedral is the main focal point of the square, you can’t help but notice the stone buildings surrounding it. The blue accents, columns, and iron work bring these somewhat dull stone buildings to life.
Wealthy families took up residence here after the construction of the cathedral in 1727. These mansions are now some of the best museums, art galleries and dining spots in Old Havana.
You may also find some stray dogs making themselves at home and playing with tourists in the squares.
The Commercial Galería Victor Manuel now occupies the former Casa de Banos (public bath house) which was built over the square’s cistern in the 19th century.
The door was open, and I’m curious, so I took a peek inside. As our tour guide mentioned, nothing really opens in Old Havana until 10:00 a.m., so the door promptly shut behind me. They weren’t ready for customers just yet.
As a recap, I booked the Old Havana Walking Tour through Royal Caribbean excursions. It consisted of two portions; a walking tour in the morning to the 4 main squares in the city: Plaza de San Francisco Asís, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de Armas, and Plaza de la Catedral.
The second portion of the tour included a bus ride through the more modern parts of Havana. I’ll be sharing more details on that soon, as well as take you for a ride in one of the classic cars (note: the car ride was not part of the excursion).
The actual excursion lasted a little over 4 hours, and I strongly recommend. It was a wonderful way to get our feet wet and get a feel for Cuban history, culture, and lifestyle.