Former Basilica convent of Saint Francis of Asisi, Havana!!

Well looking back at older posts realised only briefly mentioned in previous posts, and think it deserves better in my blog. This is old nostalgia lane so old maybe some will know more updated info on it. I am one of those displaced by political reasons long ago, but my Havana always stayed with me in my heart. Let me tell you and me a bit more on the former Basilica Convent of San Francisco de Asisi in La Habana!!

The Church and Convent of San Francisco de Asís are located on the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, in Old Havana. The church was built between 1548 and 1591, although after several structural reforms and remodeling it was completed almost two hundred years later, in 1538. Currently, the Minor Basilica of the Convent has been converted into a famous concert hall thanks to its excellent acoustics; and both the church and the convent house the Museum of Religious Art that displays various paintings, silver objects, carvings, and pieces of religious ceramics and archaeological pieces. Some of the pieces date from the end of the 17C.

church-st-francis-de-assis-havana-cuba-1607

The Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi is a former convent of the Friars Minor , its conventual church, called the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, had the status of a minor basilica, but is now desecrated and serves in particular as a concert hall.

havana-church-st-francisco-de-asis-apr12

The construction of the first conventual buildings began in 1574-1575, to be completed in 1591. But violent storms in 1680 and 1692 damaged the church, and a hurricane caused the church tower to collapse in 1694. It was decided to raze and rebuild. The new church was built in a very sober Baroque style, between 1719 and 1738. It was consecrated the following year with the rank of minor basilica, in connection with Saint-John of Latran in Rome, In 1762, in the midst of the Seven Years’ War in Europe, the city was taken by the British, and the church was used for Anglican worship. The Treaty of Paris signed the following year returned the island to the Spaniards, but the city’s bishop considered the church to have been desecrated, and opposed its being used again to serve Catholic worship

In 1841, the Spanish colonial government confiscated the property of the community and employed the convent as a warehouse and customs office in Havana. In 1846, the nave and the choir of the basilica were damaged by a violent tornado; they were destroyed in 1850 and replaced by a trompe-l’oeil painting. In 1907, after Cuban independence, the buildings housed the Post and Telegraph Directorate, then, in 1915-1916, the town’s telephone and telegraph exchanges and the General Directorate of Communications (which later became the Ministry of Communications). At the Cuban revolution, the convent was transformed into a museum of colonial history including an important collection of sacred art. In 1982 the church was restored but on October 4, 1994, it was inaugurated as a concert hall (chamber music and sacred music), then in 1995 a museum of sacred art opened its doors.  Transitory works by Cuban and foreign artists are displayed in the rooms and galleries of the convent, while serving as the stage for conferences, presentations and other national and international events. Among the collection of objects that the museum houses, archaeological pieces, goldsmiths and paintings from different parts of Latin America stand out. Sacred art is also strongly linked to this architectural work. Especially religious worship, the Museum of Sacred Art that houses the Convent of San Francisco de Asís, shows archaeological pieces, crafts, furniture, textiles and a precious collection of tableware with religious motifs, found in excavations from the Historic Center of the city of Havana. The church has a beautiful garden in honor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta where sculptures by contemporary artists are displayed.

havana plaza san francisco de asisi and church feb12

The basilica has a nave with three aisles supported by twelve massive columns representing the Twelve Apostles. Without a choir since the tornado of 1846, it ends with an oblique wall decorated with a trompe-l’oeil fresco. The basilica is flanked by a 42-meter-high three-tiered tower that has long been the tallest in the city. Its facade, which overlooks Calle Oficios, bears three statues representing the Immaculate Conception, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic of Guzmán. The convent complex includes two successive cloisters. The first, adjoining the basilica, has two floors and provides access to the tower by crossing the basilica’s gallery and a terrace. The second has three flights of arcades and a central fountain.

The Cuba tourist office on Havana in English: https://www.cubatravel.cu/en/Destinations/HAVANA/What-to-Do-/City

The Habana.com webpage on the Basilica Convent San Francisco de Asisi in English: https://www.lahabana.com/guide/basilica-menor-y-convento-de-san-francisco-de-asis/

There you go folks, a dandy building to see if ever changes, but for many possible. This is part of the old beautiful history of my Havana showing its splendor of its best. Hope you enjoy the post as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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