Located in Havana, Cuba, the Plaza de la Revolucion (Revolution Square) is the 31st largest city square in the world. This huge square encompasses 11 acres. It was conceived by the French Urbanist Jean Claude Frostier and built during the Batista Era. Until 1959 the square, built on the Loma de los Catalanes hill, was known as Plaza Civica. But following the Cuban Revolution the plaza was renamed by Fidel Castro.
The vast Plaza de la Revolucion is surrounded by grey administrative buildings that today house some of the most important offices of Cuba’s vast governmental bureaucracy. Huge political rallies are held in the area and the Castro brothers along with the other talking heads of the Cuban government have addressed millions of Cubans from the square.
The Plaza is dominated to the north by the Jose Marti Memorial, which pre-dates the revolution. A 109 m tall tower built from gray granite stones that stands in front of the Palace of Revolution, the seat of the Cuban Government. The National Library, Cuba’s largest, and several other important government buildings are also located in the vicinity.
Hasta La Victoria Siempre – Always towards Victory
Arguably one of the most iconic images in Cuba is a giant mural of Cuba’s revolutionary hero Che Guevara. The mural can be found on the eastern facade of the Ministerio del Interior, a grey concrete monolith situated to the northern side of the plaza.
The mural itself is modeled in the likeness of Che’s 1960 photograph captured by Alberto Koda. The very same one to be found in every backpacker hangout the world over. Below, you can see his most famous utterance “Hasta La Victoria Siempre”. At night, the mural is lit from behind with a golden glow that is said to symbolize the spirit of Cuba’s revolution.
In 2009, Che’s mural gained a companion. A portrait of Camilo Cienfuegos was installed on the adjacent Telecommunications Building with the words “Va Bien, Fidel” emblazoned below.
Popes and Bureaucracy
The Plaza de la Revolucion is the administrative focal point of Cuba. Most of the administrative buildings, ministries and governmental divisions operate from the Plaza and it is an integral part of present day Cuba. When Pope Jean Paul II had held Mass in the Plaza back in January 1998, nearly a million Cubans congregated at the location.
Plaza de la Revolucion captures the raw spirit and heritage of Cuba. A few memorials and sculptures like the contemplative man in front of the Jose Marti Memorial and the Monumento El Legado Cultural Hispánico behind the National Library capture the varied and long cultural heritage of the Communist nation. A visit to the country would be incomplete without visiting this square so what are you waiting for.