Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula (Saint Francis of Paula Church), Havana

Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula (Saint Francis of Paula Church), Havana

Towards the end of the 17th century, the first stone of what would be the hospital for women and the church of San Francisco de Paula was placed. The Presbyter of the Cathedral of Havana, don Nicolás Estévez Borges, in 1664 ordered the construction of a Hospital for Women and an adjoining church devoted to Saint Francis of Paola who was one of the founders of the Roman Catholic Order of the Minims. San Francisco de Paula (1416-1507) was a hermit, famous for his humility and his miracles. His party is celebrated on April 2.

Both buildings were completely destroyed by a hurricane in 1730 and were rebuilt and enlarged in 1745 in the Baroque style we see today, resulting in the Royal Hospital of Havana and the Church of San Francisco de Paula.

In 1907, the Havana Central Railroad, a U. S. company, attempted to acquire the temple for its own corporate use and eventually demolish it, but such efforts were frustrated by the opposition of local historians and anthropologists. Their efforts not only stopped the demolition of the church but also got it listed as National Monument in 1944. Havana Central Railroads, however, was able to bring down the hospital upon approval from the relevant authorities at the time.

An example of the pre-Churrigueresque Baroque style of the first half of the 18th century, the floor plan of the Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula is typologically similar to the Iglesia de San Francisco de Asís as both ground plans are based on a Latin cross. The façade has a central arched doorway and columns at the sides, typical of Spanish churches.

The portion of the church that still exists, the octagonal base of the dome, the façade, and the stained glass windows, all part of the original building of 1745, have all been restored.

As an altarpiece, the church has a stained-glass window. It also has the only organ that has been preserved in Cuba with its original pipe and machinery in its original location. Notably, the church contains the ashes of the Cuban violinist Claudio Brindis de Salas Garrido (1852-1911), considered one of the best violinists of his time.

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Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula (Saint Francis of Paula Church) on Map

Sight Name: Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula (Saint Francis of Paula Church)
Sight Location: Havana, Cuba (See walking tours in Havana)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Havana, Cuba

Create Your Own Walk in Havana

Create Your Own Walk in Havana

Creating your own self-guided walk in Havana is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Old Palaces Walking Tour

Old Palaces Walking Tour

Havana has been the seat of Cuba’s ruling gentry for centuries. Today, you can walk the streets of Old Havana and explore its palaces to get a glimpse into the city’s royal past. Although these structures now serve Havana’s citizens and visitors, they still catch your eye (and your camera lens!) with their architecture and history.

Start your trip with the ornate Presidential Palace,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Historical Churches and Cathedrals Walking Tour

Historical Churches and Cathedrals Walking Tour

Discovered and conquered by Spanish colonists in the early 16th century, Havana has turned into a major religious center of Catholicism in the Caribbean. Although a communist regime is currently in power, many of the churches, cathedrals, and other religious buildings have been preserved and still give a glimpse of the city’s religious heritage.

The old Havana Cathedral, located in a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

The Spanish founded Havana in 1519. After French pirate Jacques de Sores ransacked the city in 1555, the Castle of the Royal Force was built to protect the city.

Havana became a major stopping point between the newly discovered Americas and ancient Europe. In the 1600s, Havana was a major shipbuilding port.

Old Havana is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic city has five...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Hemingway's Havana Walking Tour

Hemingway's Havana Walking Tour

Ever since Hemingway first visited Cuba in 1928 until his death in 1961, he felt an intense connection with the people and culture of Cuba. Hemingway lived at Hotel Ambos Mundos during the 1930s, and began, wrote, and finished several novels there. Today, you can see some of Hemingway's belongings in Room 511.

Hemingway was a frequent patron at El Floridita, famous for its daiquiris....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles

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