A Walk Along Calle Monserrate (Havana)

                          Monserrate is still one of the most important streets in Havana, it’s almost certain that you will cross it while visiting Old Havana without ever noticing. Since 1918 this street and its continuation on Egido Street have been re-named Avenida de Bélgica. However, Habaneros still refer to it or them by their old names. Between the two streets they separate Old Havana from the rest of the city. The street gets it’s name from the Our Lady of Monserrate church (founded in 1695, destroyed in 1836, moved to Calle Galiano in 1844) that was once located on the Plazuela de Monserrate where Plaza de Albear is now located (in front of El Floridita). It was moved to allow better mobility within the walls at the time. A set of double doors was built to allow access to the city through Obispo Street and to decongest the traffic of carriages and pedestrians in the already crowded city. By 1863 the importance of the walls for reason of defense had declined significantly to the point of the city council deciding to demolish it. Besides, the city had been growing at such an accelerated rate that it had become a necessity. They knocked down the walls, filled in the pits (moats) and with all the extra land built public squares and many important buildings….Palace of the Marquesa de Villalba (1879), Palacio de Bellas Artes (1954), Bacardi Building (1930), the famous Floridita Bar-Restaurant (1914), Hotel Monserrate (now a residential building and bar), Estación Central of Havana (1912), Manzana de Gómez Building (1920), Presidential Palace (1920) as well as Cigar Factories, Monuments, Restaurants, Bars & a few Movie Theaters. There are many buildings that aren’t mentioned because I have no information about their origin. This street is a good way to see the not so pristine part of Old Havana without wandering too far away from it and/or your comfort zone. Once the wall came down and the city expanded, Monserrate became one of the most important streets in the city of Havana and still is.
                          Not having given it a lot of thought previously, when strolling along this Avenue, the making of this post has made me realize how many sites are situated along this stretch of the city. I had so many photographs (hundreds) that I couldn’t possibly have used them all….I still ended up using more than usual. You could spend a good part of the day just walking along this street with all it’s eye candy, restaurants, bars and museums. It runs from Egido, by the docks…past the Central Railway Station, all the way to Colon near the Malecon….past the Revolution Museum. It’s always full of people and a great way to see Cubans going about their everyday affairs. You can easily spend an entire day walking along this street if you visit the museums; Museo de la Revolucion & both buildings that make up the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. In addition, you have plenty of bars; El Floridita, Hotel Kempinski Rooftop, Bar Monserrate….to name a few, where you can sip a mojito and in some cases listen to a Cuban band. As well, you have too many restaurants to mention where you could have lunch and dinner. I suggest that if you have a few days in Havana, spend a day walking along Monserrate, it’s a great way to get a feel of the city.

New Statue of Jose Marti

Remnants of the old City Wall

Museum of the Revolution

Tank in front of the Museum of the Revolution

Edificio Misiones (sede del Gobierno provincial de Ciudad de La Habana)

The back of the Santo Angel Costudio Church

 

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Bacardi Building

left…ex-movie theater Actualidades & red building is the Asociación Canaria de Cuba

Plaza de Albear

La Floridita Bar-Restaurant

Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski

Edificio de Arte Internacional

Bar Monserrate (where Hotel Monserrate used to be)

Bar-Restaurant Castillo de Farnes

Bar-Restaurant Kilometro Zero

Policlínico Docente “Antonio Guiteras Holmes”

‘Pedro Murias’ La Meridiana ex-Cigar Factory

 Palacio de las Ursulinas (left) ex-movie theater Universal (center building)

Seguros American National (Escuela Primaria “Oscar Lucero”)

Palacio del Marqués de Balboa

 Puerto de Sagua Restaurant

El Baturro Restaurant

Estación Central de Ferrocarriles