Plaza Vieja is the one plaza you must visit in Old Havana. Find out what makes Plaza Vieja feel so alive.
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.
The other art installations in the square were a flower, and a naked girl riding an oversized chicken while holding a giant fork.
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.
Inside is a colorful art gallery comprised of work from Cuban artists.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Views of Plaza Vieja and around are also brilliant from the veranda.
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.
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.
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.
You can also wave to the voyeurs watching you from the Camara Oscura.
Did you enjoy reading Plaza Vieja: The Best Plaza in Old Havana?
Pin it and help others find it too!
***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)?
Super easy DIY travel around city centres
Visited in May 2016