Plaza de Armas
The most important plaza in Habana Vieja, and the oldest, handsome Plaza de Armas square was laid out in 1519 and named Plaza de Iglesia for the church that was demolished in 1741 after an English warship, the ill-named HMS Invincible, was struck by lightning and exploded, sending its main mast sailing down on the church. Later, Plaza de Armas evolved to become the settlement’s administrative center.
Plaza de Armas seems still to ring with the cacophony of the past, when military parades and musical concerts were held under the watchful eye of the governor, and the gentry would take their formal evening promenade. The plaza is ringed by stalls selling tatterdemalion antiquarian books (wed.–Sat.).
At its heart, verdant Parque Céspedes is shaded by palms and tall kapok (ceiba) trees that surround a white marble statue of Manuel de Céspedes, hero of the Ten Years War.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition