Robaina's plantation

Friday 27 December 2019

A Walk Along Calle Monserrate (Havana) Part 2

              I had taken so many pictures along this street and the adjoining ones that I didn't have enough space on my original Blog Post to add all of them.
              To recap.....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 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.

Recently added statue of Jose Marti

Museo de La Revolucion above and below

Memorial Granma

Bacardi Building

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Universal)

Parque Albear

El Floridita Restaurant Bar

Part of what's remaining of the wall that once surrounded Havana (Habana Vieja)

The same wall as the picture above, with the main Train Station in the background

Museo de Orfebrería (Goldsmith's Museum) Habana Vieja, Havana

                      Located in an area of Old Havana that's full of museums, art galleries and tourists, this is one of many of the old mansions that have been restored to show off some of the old artifacts accumilated through the years. It houses a number objects created by Cuban and Spanish silversmiths that were forged mostly between the 19th and first quarter of the 20th centuries but also several pieces dating back from the 16th-18th centuries. Some of the items on display are: cabinets, statues, clocks & watches, swords, paintings, bathroom items, safes, furniture, lamps, platters, medals, candlestick holders, canes, daggers & well as a few more pieces most of which are over 100 years old all of which are of Cuban origin.
                    The house itself dates back to 1665 and in 1707 was owned by the silversmith Gregorio Tabares who lived and operated his workshop there. The current construction dates back from the first quarter of the last century, having had since then various functions and owners. After 1959 it was turned into a coinage workshop, finally becoming the Museum of the Orfebrería in 1996 after 2 1/2 years of restoration work.
                   The Congregation of Silversmiths of Cuba, that was first founded in 1665, was reborn in 1997 and has since then used this Museum its headquarters. It hosts conferences, workshops and exhibitions of objects related to silverware. They also offer tools to artists participating in order to teach them the trade.
                   Worth a stop if you're in the area not just for it's contents but also for it's architectual value. It's not massive so it won't take up too much time and it's free of charge....maybe you might want to give one of the curators a couple of coins.

Museo de Orfebrería
Obispo #113, e/ Mercaderes y Oficios,
Habana Vieja, La Habana
Phone: (07) 863 9861
Open: 9am-5pm Tues-Sat....9am-12:45pm Sun
Admission: Free