Plaza Vieja is the one plaza you must visit in Old Havana. Find out what makes Plaza Vieja feel so alive.

Plaza Vieja

In terms of attractions and raw beauty, Plaza Vieja is the best in Old Havana. A major renovation project has been completed for the majority of the buildings, with a few more still underway. Each building currently showcases a before and after shot on their exterior façade. The center of Plaza Vieja is filled with a fountain, oddly surrounded by a fence. At the time of our visit, an army of inanimate dogs also guarded the fountain.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Fountain and Street Art

Who puts a fence around a fountain?

The other art installations in the square were a flower, and a naked girl riding an oversized chicken while holding a giant fork.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Flower Monument

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Girl Riding Oversized Chicken Holding Fork

Is this a fairy tale I don’t know of?

Scattered around Plaza Vieja are a number of small attractions along with restaurants, a microbrewery, and accommodation.

La Casona Centro de Arte

Located on the southwest corner of Plaza Vieja is La Casona Centro de Arte (free). The building has five arches that are mirrored on the second floor, but with the center three containing ornate stain glass windows.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja La Casona Centro de Arte

The recently completed renovation of Plaza Vieja was excellently done.

Inside is a colorful art gallery comprised of work from Cuban artists.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja La Casona Centro de Arte

Japanese inspired Cuban art.

Museo de Naipes

Next door to La Casona Centro de Arte is the eccentric Museo de Naipes (free). Inside are literally dozens of unique card sets that come in all shapes and designs.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Museo de Naipes Card Sets

There are literally so many unique sets you can’t count them.

My personal favorite contained the 80’s sex symbols. I’m guessing Janet is feeling left out as both Michael and Latoya made the cut.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Museo de Naipes Latoya Jackson

Who doesn’t love 80’s sex icons?

Palacio Cueto

Lurking in the southeast corner of Plaza Vieja, but not quite included is Palacio Cueto. The building is currently being restored, but still remains striking. Standing one floor taller, its’ ornate facades are eye-catching compared to the plain buildings lining the square.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Palacio Cueto

Palacio Cueto is going to shine among diamonds when it is complete.

Camara Oscura

Located on Plaza Vieja’s northeast corner, and next to the overpriced Planetario (10 CUC), is Camara Oscura (2 CUC). Essentially, you are paying to look through a 35 meter periscope and see the highlights of Old Havana.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Camara Oscura Periscope

Periscope up! Thank you Leonardo Da Vinci for your invention.

Views of Plaza Vieja and around are also brilliant from the veranda.

Havana Panaramic From Camara Oscura

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Camara Oscura Observatory

How can you not take a selfie with a view like that?

The periscope image is refracted 45 degrees and displayed on a white disc that is controlled by an operator. He is able to rotate a full 360 degrees, and adjust the height of the disc to bring images into focus. Five minute demonstrations are in English and Spanish. In the process you not only get to learn about Old Havana, but also the meaning of ‘5 minutes’ in Cuba. For more information, read Basics of Cuba.

Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Brau

If you head east from the south side of Plaza Vieja, you will come across Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Brau (free) halfway down the block on the right. There isn’t much to see, but you may be lucky and catch a performance.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Brau

Pop in for random performances.

Food and Drinks

A short distance from the northwest corner of Plaza Vieja is a trendy peso shop on Calle Brasil. You can grab a ham sandwich for 10 pesos, and a juice for 5 pesos.

Old Havana Plaza Vieja Peso Ham Sandwich

You can’t beat the price of peso food in Cuba!

Depending on the time of day, or if you are a firm believer that it is noon somewhere, La Factoria Plaza Vieja sells micro-brewed beers for 2 CUC.

Old Havana La Factoria Plaza Vieje

It’s 12 o’clock somewhere!

You can also wave to the voyeurs watching you from the Camara Oscura.

Old Havana Camara Oscura La Factoria Plaza Vieje View

You weren’t wrong if you felt like you were being watched in Plaza Vieja.

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Plaza Vieja is the one plaza you must visit in Old Havana. Find out what makes it feel so alive. Sights include La Casona Centro de Arte, Museo de Naipes, Palacio Cueto, Camara Oscura, Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Brau, & La Factoria Plaza Vieja for a beer.

***The Final Word – Grab a beer outside at La Factoria Plaza Vieja, and people watch as Camara Oscura tours watch you.***

What’s your favorite deck of cards theme (besides that nudie set you bought at the flea market)?

5 Shovels

Super easy DIY travel around city centres

Visited in May 2016