Havana ’s largest plaza, Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Plaza), which occupies the Loma de los Catalanes (Hill of the Catalans). The trapezoidal complex spanning 11 acres was laid out during the Batista era, when it was known as the Plaza Cívica. It forms the administrative center for Cuba. All the major edifices date back to the 1950s. Huge rallies are held here on May 1. The plaza is under close surveillance and loitering is discouraged.
Also here are the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library, tel. 07/855-5442, Mon.–Sat. 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.), Cuba’s largest library, built 1955–1957 on the east side of the plaza in a similar monumental style as the Palace of Justice; the 21-story Ministerio de Defensa, originally built as the municipal seat of government on the plaza’s southeast side; and the Teatro Nacional (National Theater, Paseo y Av. Carlos M. de Céspedes, tel. 07/879-6011), one block to the northwest of the plaza, built 1954–1960 with a convex glazed facade.
Paseo climbs northwest from Plaza de la Revolución to Zapata, where in the middle of the road rises the Memorial a Ethel y Julius Rosenberg, bearing cement doves and an inset sculpture of the U.S. couple executed in Sing Sing Prison, New York, in 1953 for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. An inscription reads, “Assassinated June 19, 1953.” The Cuban government holds a memorial service here each June 19.
To the rear of the library is the Monumento El Legado Cultural Hispánico, a larger-than-life bronze statue by American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington of two naked men (one on horseback) passing a baton.
One block northeast of Plaza de la Revolución is the Museo de Historia del Deporte (Sports History Museum, Av. Rancho Boyeros, e/ 19 de Mayo and Bruzón, tel. 07/881-4696, Tues.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., CUC1), in the Sala Polivatente Ramón Fonst stadium.