Sunday, November 15, 2009
San Cristobal Noviembre 16 2009
Procesion al Santo en
Recordando a Guillermo Cabrera Infante
Best of Havana
Planning Your Time
Monumento de Jose Martí
Parque de la Fraternidad
Avenida de los Misiones
Plaza de la Catedral
Catedral San Cristóbal de la Habana
Casa de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras
Casa del Conde de Bayona
Casa de Conde de Lombillo
La Bodeguita del Medio
Casa del Conde de la Reunión
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de San Francisco
Southern Habana Vieja
Sights — Centro Habana
Sights — Vedado
Sights — Playa
Sights — Across the Harbor
The intimate Catedral San Cristóbal de la Habana, on the north side of the Plaza de la Catedral, is known colloquially as Catedral Colón (Columbus Cathedral) but is officially called the Catedral de la Virgen María de la Concepción Inmaculada (tel. 07/861-7771), or Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, whose statue is installed in the High Altar.
The cathedral was initiated by the Jesuits in 1748. The order was kicked out of Cuba by Carlos III in 1767, but the building was eventually completed in 1777 and altered again in the early 19th century. Thus the original baroque interior (including the altar) is gone, replaced in 1814 by a new classical interior.
The baroque facade is adorned with clinging columns and ripples like a great swelling sea; Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier thought it “music turned to stone.” A royal decree of December 1793 elevated the church to a cathedral because “the beautifully carved stones of the church… are clamouring from their walls for the distinction of cathedral.” On either side of the facade are mismatched towers (one fatter and taller than the other) containing bells supposedly cast with a dash of gold and silver, said to account for their musical tone.
Columns divide the rectangular church into three naves. The neoclassical main altar is very simple and made of wood. The murals above the main altar by Italian painter Guiseppe Perovani are badly deteriorated. The chapel immediately to the left has several altars, including one of Carrara marble inlaid with gold, silver, onyx, and carved hardwoods. Note, too, the wooden image of Saint Christopher, patron saint of Havana, dating to 1633.
The Spanish believed that a casket brought to Havana from Santo Domingo in 1796 and that resided in the cathedral for more than a century held the ashes of Christopher Columbus. Casket and ashes were returned to Spain in 1899. All but the partisan habaneros now believe that the ashes were those of Columbus’s son Diego.
Catedral San Cristóbal de la Habana is officially open Monday–Saturday 10:30 a.m.–2 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.– noon. However, more often than not it is closed except for Mass (Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. at 7:15 a.m. and 8:15 p.m., and Sun. at 8:30 a.m.).