Cuba has been, is and always will be a country of faith. Cubans, with that mix that characterizes our cultural and religious roots, have been able to believe and trust the support of the deities in the most difficult moments, always embodying that special mix that we all carry.
And the process of transculturation so usual in Cuban traditions has made the religions practiced in Cuba mix, unite, join the prayers of each Cuban.
The fact is that in this Caribbean island it is as common to see religious festivals with African nuances as it is to observe a crowd of people attending a mass in a Catholic church, which is why Cuba today is a Catholic country with great influence of Afro-Cuban beliefs.
Mix and worship in the Havana Churches
Religious syncretism and the union of culture and belief, of African religions and Spanish Catholicism, also characterizes the temples and churches of the Island, where Catholic saints and their representation as African deities are venerated, all in the same belief.
And a large number of devout Cubans flock to the beautiful temples located in the capital of Havana, representatives of both the most revered saints of the Catholic religion, as well as a vast culture and millenary architecture with Baroque, Gothic and neoclassical details.
The vast majority of these buildings have been restored and are actively engaged in their religious tasks, while others have been turned into museums of art and religion.
10 Temples you should know:
We now present a list of the 10 most important and visited churches and temples in Havana:
1. The Cathedral of San Cristóbal de La Habana
The beautiful Cathedral of Havana it is a place that is overwhelming just by entering the double doors that guard its entrance. The Cathedral is the main of the Cuban religious temples, possessing a long history and tradition.
It is located in the center of the historic area of the city, in front of La Plaza de la Catedral, right in the middle of important tourist facilities.
Its construction as a Cathedral began in 1778, the idea of Bishop Félix José de Trespalacios and it was born in a beautiful Baroque style. Today it is considered one of the most important constructions of that architectural style in Cuba.
Inside, the Main Altar, keeps the image of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, while many visitors look at the Chapel of Loreto, one of the few elements that are preserved from the old Jesuit construction.
As a curious detail we highlight that the Cathedral of Havana until 1898 housed the funerary remains of Admiral Christopher Columbus, but they were later transferred to the Cathedral of Seville.
2. Convent of San Francisco de Asís
The Convent of San Francisco de AsísIt also stands out for the immense beauty of its colonial construction and for its tones that sparkle before the eyes of passersby.
It is one of the most important architectural exponents of Old Havana, with a baroque façade in clear cream tones that stands out imposingly on the Havana city landscape.
Its construction began in the year 1548 and lasted until 1591, but it was completely finished almost 200 years later, in 1738, due to the elaboration of its structure.
Inside it houses three stone statues that represent the Immaculate Conception, San Francisco de Asís and Santo Domingo de Guzmán.
Today it is an installation of museum value that houses historical objects of a religious nature and that has the Minor Basilica of the San Francisco de Asís Convent, an immense room where you can enjoy sacred and chamber music.
3. Convent of Santa Clara de Asís
The Convent of Santa Clara de Asís It was the first female convent that existed in Havana and hence its construction stands out for its delicacy and radiant beauty.
It occupied all the space formed by the streets Cuba, Luz, Habana and Sol and was built in 1644.
The Convent stood out in its heyday for hosting single young women from the most prominent families of the Havana bourgeoisie who could not find a husband, so it was an extremely closed place and away from prying eyes.
It was dedicated to the figure of Santa Clara de Asís, patron saint of television and telecommunications, clairvoyants, goldsmiths and good weather, which in the Yoruba religion syncretizes with the Orisha Yewa, Orisha of purity, chastity, virginity and sterility, representing loneliness and containment of feelings.
Today, the Santa Clara Convent is home to the National Center for Conservation, Restoration and Museology and is included in the List of Monuments in Danger of the World Monuments Funds.
4. Reina Church (Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Ignatius of Loyola)
The popularly known as Reina Church, is one of the busiest religious temples in the Cuban capital. Due to its central location, many faithful come to its facilities to pray.
Its official name is Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
The Iglesia de Reina is, after the Cathedral of San Cristóbal de la Habana, the most important Catholic temple in the capital and its beautiful neo-Gothic construction makes it today considered one of the most beautiful religious temples in the Caribbean.
The construction began in 1914 commissioned by the Jesuit friars and was later consecrated to the Heart of Jesus.
Inside, the main altarpiece stands out, showing the image of the Sacred Heart accompanied byañado of San Ignacio de Loyola and San Francisco Javier.
5. The Church of La Merced
The Church of Our Lady of Mercy It is one of the oldest buildings in Havana and in its facilities you can breathe an air of solemn tranquility and peace. It is located on Calle Cuba, corner of La Merced.
It was built in honor of the Virgen de la Merced, the patron saint of prisoners, lady of forgiveness and peace, who comes to the aid of the prisoners and responds to their prayers.
The virgin syncretizes in the Yoruba religion with the Greater Orisha Obatala, considered the strongest of the orishas, creator of the earth and sculptor of the human being.
La Merced Church is one of the most popular and busiest in the city, and it is also famous for its beautiful interior decoration. Its construction dates back to 1630 and has three huge naves separated from each other by semicircular arches.
6. Church of the Holy Guardian Angel
The Church of the Holy Guardian Angel It is also an exponent of architectural beauty in the Gothic style, splendid in its façade.
It is located in the Historic Center of Old Havana, located in the old Loma del Ángel and as a curious fact, we detail that there were baptized Cubans as famous as the intellectual Félix Varela and the National Hero of Cuba, José Martí.
7. San Felipe Neri Oratory
The San Felipe Neri Oratorios It is characterized by a vast history and tradition that make it a highly symbolic building located in the Cuban capital. It is located on Calle Aguiar on the corner of Obrapia.
The Old Church of San Felipe Neri was built in 1693 and from its beginnings it was the headquarters of the Congregation of the Oratorians, a religious order founded in Havana in 1666, by Bishop Juan de Santo Matía Sáenz de Mañozca y Murillo.
Later, the facility was the headquarters of the Capuchin Order for 103 years and of the Congregation of Discalced Carmelite Fathers until 1924, accumulating within it all the knowledge that the Cuban monks treasured in their numerous investigations and studies.
Today, the Oratory is a concert hall dedicated to lyrical music and also has museum value, since it exhibits a small collection of religious paintings from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.
8. Church of Bethlehem
The Church of Bethlehem It is one of the oldest religious buildings in Havana. At the end of the XNUMXth century, this imposing structure came into being, with a block for a convent and an observatory dome, which was part of the college that also housed the Church.
The Belén Convent and the church are located between Compostela, Luz, Acosta and Picota streets.
The convent began to be built with the aim of turning it into a refuge for poor convalescents.
Thus, from 1704 to 1842 it was occupied by Betlemite friars, who cared for the sick and wounded, distributed food to the poor, and maintained a free school for Havana children.
But later, this sumptuous religious facility became the now famous Colegio de Belén, which welcomed within its walls thousands of highly distinguished Cubans in fields such as politics, science and art.
The famous college also housed a meteorological observatory that was noted for the early forecast of tropical cyclones. There, in addition, important data were collected that were sent to the most important astronomical and meteorological centers in America, Europe and Asia.
9. Russian Orthodox Cathedral Our Lady of Kazan
A Church that draws the attention of all those who walk around, due to its different architectural style, which seems to recall a piece of Moscow in the heart of Havana.
With their rounded and sparkling domes, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral It is located next to the Alameda de Paula, the first promenade in Cuba and is one of the most visited places in Havana for its immense beauty and the splendor of its legend.
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral Our Lady of Kazan, was built in 2006 and was inaugurated by the Patriarch of Moscow, Cirilo I, and the President of Cuba, Raúl Castro.
Six domes in a neo-Byzantine style adorn the brilliant white of the construction that, although it does not have great height, it does stand out for the elegance of its lines.
Inside, many come to enjoy the beauty of the High Altar, made entirely of gold and the paintings that decorate its walls.
10. The Church of Paula
Paula's Church, is one of the Cuban constructions to which historical literary works refer the most, due to its privileged location and its beautiful construction that, although sober, has a classic elegance that attracts.
It is located at the end and attached to the famous Alameda de Paula in Old Havana.
The Church of San Francisco de Paula is an old building that is preserved to this day without changes in the construction style that it had when it was erected.
Nowadays it is a concert hall dedicated to ancient music, home to plastic exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.