Thirdeyemom

Old Havana’s Plaza Vieja

Out of the five central plazas in Old Havana, one of my favorites for her beauty and elegance is Plaza Vieja or “Old Square”. Built in 1559 as a public square after the construction of the Plaza des Armas and Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja was originally called Plaza Nueva (New Square). Only six years earlier, Havana had been declared the capital of Cuba (being moved from Santiago) and the Spaniards were ready to use their newly found wealth to begin creating colonial Havana. 

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Unfortunately, Plaza Vieja has a rather sad past much like a lot of Cuba. Plaza Vieja was where the wealthy watched bullfights, executions and slave trading from the luxury of their balconies above. Like many parts of the world, slavery was entrenched in Cuba’s success and the wealthy sugar and tobacco plantation owners greed can be found in the beautiful buildings left behind.

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

You can see lovely examples of traditional Cuban architecture from colonial times found within the brilliantly colored glass windows, the beautiful balconies and the brightly hued buildings.

Nowadays, Plaza Vieja remains a beautiful square filled with traditional Cuban architecture and a few outdoor cafes. It is a picturesque area to walk around along the cobblestone streets and sweeping views of Havana’s historical past. What I enjoyed most about the square: The people. Here are some photos in which I tried to capture daily Cuban life.

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

I could have spent the entire afternoon sitting outside at this wonderful outdoor cafe watching the world go by but of course since I was on my walking tour of Old Havana there wasn’t time. What a shame! But I did manage to snap a few more interesting photos from Plaza Vieja and her surroundings which give a feel of Cuban life.

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

As we were leaving the square, I saw these “entrepreneurs“:  a new lifestyle and way of living in Communist Cuba that is slowly but surely being permitted by the government and is improving people’s lives.

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Selling art along the street in Old Havana

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

Shops that are not state-owned are slowly popping up around Cuba.

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba

And of course there are plenty of shops to buy Revolutionary garb and memorabilia.

Old Havana is a lovely place yet it is so encrusted in tumultuous history. Today, over 2.2 million out of Cuba’s estimated 11 million people are crunched together living in Havana creating a lot of problems with overcrowding. Life in Cuba is hard with little money, little space, long lines, slow internet, empty stores and little freedom. I look forward to exploring these issues in more depth as I continue on my series on Cuba.

Stay tuned…

 

14 comments

  1. We haven’t been to Havana yet but we sure love the music. The Buena Vista Club is my favourite. I tried to get a cuban feel in the song La Rosa in the album Osaka Time.
    Leslie

    • Oh….I went to hear Buena Vista Social Club in Old Havana and they had one original of the group playing!!! It was one of my favorite things of the trip! More later when I get there! 🙂

  2. My favorite photos are the ones depicting real life. I love the one of the mother braiding her daughter’s hair. How do you do that? Do you have a good zoom? Do they know you are taking their pictures? I always try to get candid shots of people, but when they see me…they smile and wave. I’d like to know your secrets to these great candid shots of everyday life.

  3. Sorry I missed your blog for nearly 3 months,I have been super busy with so many things. I actually feel guilty of not writing my own whilst missing many wonderful articles from the logs I follow. I am catching up.

  4. I so enjoyed your really candid photos of Havana everyday life, Nicole. Thanks for sharing your experiences and some of he history too. That cafe looks like a lovely place to rest for a while. 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: