Old Havana is a tourist paradise par excellence. In this district, cultural and city tourism have one of the most attractive zones in Cuba . In fact, this is one of the zones in the capital and the nation with the highest figures of visitors. We could mention plenty of specific tourist attractions in this zone, but there is no doubt that the most important are history, culture, and the architecture of this colonial core of Havana City . Old Havana provides the visitor with this and much more in a relatively small area.
Within this territory, there are several spaces that have turn to be particularly attractive and due to this fact are among the most visited indeed. Moreover, they constitute points of reference to walk around Old Havana and get to know her well enough. Examples are the Arms Square , the Plaza of Saint Francis of Assisi , the Cathedral Square , the Old Plaza , as well as the Obispo Street and the Paseo del Prado.
The four above-mentioned plazas constitute essential spaces within the colonial core of the city of Havana . The Plaza de Armas is one of the most ancient places of the city. From its foundation, its space served to trumpet laws and news at the beat of the drum and to celebrate military parades. The architectural ensemble around it is one of the most beautiful and better preserved sites of colonial architecture in the whole continent.
A place of great architectonic richness within the colonial zone, the Plaza of Saint Francis of Assisi played a key role in the economical development of Havana City . Due to its closeness to the bay it was always used for the supply of the ships, as a loading and unloading zone, and as a bargain market. In spite that it is flanked by the homonymous church and convent, its predominant character was a commercial one. Nowadays, the square is also surrounded by the Lonja del Comercio, the Cruiser Terminal of Havana, and the Port Customs among other buildings.
The Cathedral of Havana is one of the most iconic elements of the city. Its plaza is often used nowadays as a scenario for gigantic dinners beneath the stars and great spectacles that use as background the renowned baroque façade of the cathedral. The Old Plaza , however, was also a commercial space of the city and a residential zone par excellence. Its formation is considered the first attempt to expand the city and cope with the urban and population growth of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Other two distinctive places of Old Havana are two of its streets: Obispo Street and the Paseo del Prado. Obispo Street (bishop st.) gets its name due to the fact that the bishop of Havana , Don Pedro Agustin Morel de Santa Cruz , used to walk down this particular street. Being consequent with its history, this street is a pedestrian one and on both sides there are plenty of commercial establishments of all kinds. On the other hand, the Paseo del Prado is a promenade in the middle of an avenue. The promenade is lined with big leafy trees, beautiful lamps, benches, lion statues, and monuments. It is the western limit of Old Havana municipality and extends from the Central Park down to the fortress of San Salvador de la Punta, the latter being the closing of the entrance of the bay together with the Morro Castle.