advertisement

A national monument and one of the most remarkable colonial relics in Cuba, this elegant and serene square looks like a meticulously designed movie set. Its charms are subtle, but undeniable. The colonial arches, cobblestones, and houses with red-tile roofs and window grilles speak volumes about Camagüey's colonial past. The square, whose present design dates to 1732, holds great significance for Cubans: The body of the national independence war hero Ignacio Agramonte was brought here, after being burned by the Spaniards, for identification in 1873.

On one side of the square are the 17th-century church and hospital of the order of San Juan de Dios. La Iglesia San Juan de Dios features a baroque colonial interior with dark-toned woods and the original brick floor. The church adjoins the handsome Hospital de San Juan de Dios, established to serve the poor. Padre José Olallo Valdés (1815-89), who furthered that mission, has been beatified by the Catholic Church and is on his way to being made a saint. Off one side of the cloisters are the remains of Agramonte, making the buildings even more of a sacred place for Camagüeyanos. The city now puts on art exhibits, concerts, and historical displays, such as old pharmaceutical objects, in one corner of the hospital. The understated, but noble colonial structure contains a notable courtyard, thick doors, and an elegant wood staircase. Climb the stairs to the tower from which there is a splendid view of all the church belfries spread across the skyline of the centro histórico.