An excellent place to start a tour of Havana is Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) – and where better to begin than the place where the city is said to have been founded. A small chapel, El Templete, with an interesting fresco by the French artist Jean Baptiste Vermay, was built in 1828 to mark the spot. In front of the chapel is a ceiba tree, similar to the one under which the first mass in Cuba is said to have been held. From here, it is a natural progression to Plaza de Armas, dominated by the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum), which occupies the magnificent old Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, once home of the highest colonial authority in Cuba and a former Presidential Palace. This popular museum gives an overview of the history of Havana from its founding until the present day. The oldest building in this square is actually just to the side – the impressive Castillo de le Real Fuerza, a 16th-century colonial fortress surrounded by a moat, today home to the Museo de la Ceramica Artistica. For visitors wishing to deviate from a cultural tour, the nearby market is the best place in Havana for local arts and crafts.
Castles, City Squares