The oldest of Habana Vieja’s squares, the Plaza de Armas is where Havana established itself as a city in the second half of the sixteenth century, and for most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was the seat of government in Havana. It still boasts some distinguished colonial buildings, several of which now house museums, most notably the Museo de la Ciudad. The three brick streets that form the edges of the plaza and, uniquely, its single wooden one are dominated by Havana’s biggest and best secondhand book market, enclosing the square’s bushy central gardens with the buzz of commerce. Often seething with tourists, and bathed in live music wafting over from the restaurant in one corner, this is the beating heart of the old town for most visitors.


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