At the southwest corner of the Quinta de Los Molinos grounds, the Avenida de Los Presidentes becomes Avenida de Ranchos Boyeros and continues south for about 1km to the Plaza de la Revolución. For much of the time, the plaza comes as a bit of a letdown, revealing itself to be just a prosaic expanse of concrete bordered by government buildings and the headquarters of the Cuban Communist Party. You’ll find a more animated scene if you coincide your visit with May Day or other annual parade days, when legions of loyal Cubans, ferried in on state-organized buses from the reparto apartment blocks on the city outskirts, come to wave flags and listen to speeches at the foot of the José Martí memorial. Tourists still flock here throughout the year to see the plaza’s threefold attractions: the Memorial Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Memorial José Martí and the Memorial Camilo Cienfuegos.
Jose Marti Memorial, Havana © Ivanov / Shutterstock
History of Plaza de la Revolucion
The Plaza itself is one of the worlds largest city squares (although ranking at 31st!) and was designed by French Urbanist, Jean Claude Frostier. Until 1959 it was named Plaza Civica, translating to Civil Square, but the infamous Fidel Castro changed its name to Plaza de la Revolucion – for obvious reasons, during the Cuban Revolution.
The Cuban Revolution
In 1953, a revolution began to overthrow Fulgencio Batista, the corrupt dictator of Cuba. Batista was known to allow the USA to take advantage of sugar cane plantations for his own wallet, whilst the rest of the country suffered high unemployment rates and poor water infrastructure. Leaders of the revolution against Batista were the infamous Fidel Castro, his brother Raul Castro, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. The guerilla campaign lasted 6 years and eventually came to an end in 1959 with Fidel Castro as prime minister. The armed uprising had many setbacks but eventually won for the people of Cuba, something the Cubans respectively acknowledge even today.
The Plaza de la Revolucion is a meaningful place that holds a valuable place in the hearts of local Cubans. The square represents peace and freedom and serves as a memorial for the great ‘four horsemen’ of the Cuban Revolution. Unfortunately, Camilo died at sea in a plane crash that was never recovered, now each year on the 28th October, Cubans leave flowers on the ocean as a ceremonial remembrance for Camilo.
Camilo Cienfuegos Memorial, Havana © Jandula / Shutterstock
Things to Do
The plaza itself does not have much in the form of things to do, surrounded by political buildings, all you can do is admire the important of the square whilst taking a look at the memorials and taking photos. Nearby on Tulipan Street is the Tulipan market, the largest market in Havana and notoriously cheap for produce and foods. The market is very popular with the locals and a great insight into authentic Cuban life.
Featured Image, Che Guevara Memorial © Deaton Photos / Shutterstock