Known as the Cathedral of San Cristóbal de la Habana, initially called as Holy Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception. This historical building is located in the popular Cathedral Square integrated with the historic old town, The Old Havana.
The Cathedral of Havana is one of the most important religious buildings and the most visited in Cuba. In the square where it is located, the atmosphere is purely colonial like in the best of that period. The square daily sees the tourists mingle with the sellers of anything, the women dressed in the fashion of colonial slaves, musicians, dancers and all kinds of visitors. All this creates an atmosphere that transport us centuries ago in Cuban history.
The Cathedral of Havana was built by the Jesuit order before the order was expelled from the island. It was used first as a small chapel, and after by command of Bishop Felipe José de Tres Palacios, the half-built church would suffer several transformations to become the Havana cathedral dedicated the Immaculate Conception, whose image is venerated in the high altar.
For the second half of the eighteenth century several reforms designed by architect Pedro Medina were carried out and in 1755 the chapel was consecrated to Our Lady of Loreto, work done by Lorenzo Camacho. At the founding of the diocese of Havana in 1788 the church turns into a cathedral. Being expanded in the early nineteenth century by Bishop Juan Jose Diaz of Spain.
The main hall had garded the monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus throughout the colony period, before the Admiral's ashes were taken to Santo Domingo and then have their final rest in the Cathedral of Seville.
The Cathedral of Havana holds many works of art such as sculptures, paintings, jewelery, some originals and some copies of the genuine creation by famous artists of the time like Vermay, the Italian Bianchini and his fellow Italian Giuseppe Perovani, known as the first drawing professor of Havana. It's curious and remains a mystery, how came to Cuba the picture of Pope preparing to say mass, now preserved in the temple. This painting dates from the fifteenth century, before the discovery of America.
The church has a Baroque style, considered Tuscan for its two bell towers at the sides, his temple in a rectangle and the three ships and the eight sides, divided by thick pillars and its white and black marble floor. Inside the church lie the graves of many famous people of the city and it is surrounded by the square that bears his name, which is home to the mansions of the nobility colonial of Havana highlighting the Palacio del Marques de Arcos, the home of the Earls of Casa Bayona, 1720, currently the Colonial Art Museum and the Palace of the Marqués de Aguas Claras better known as the restaurant El Patio, one of the landmarks of the square, where you can admire the beautiful buildings that surround the square while you have lunch or just drinking a soda or a cold beer. A few meters down the street is La Bodeguita del Medio.
The Havana Cathedral has become a symbol of Cuba, known around world due to its majestic architectural image and all the history that goes with it. The people of Havana and all cuban in general, catholics or not, have incorporated its image to their identity.