Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
- Mass 6:30pm Mon & Wed-Fri, 5pm Sat, 9am & 6:30pm Sun
Lonely Planet review for Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
It might not be particularly old, but Santiago's most important church is stunning both inside and out. There has been a cathedral on this site since the city's inception in the 1520s, though a series of pirate raids, earthquakes and dodgy architects put paid to at least three previous incarnations. The present cathedral, characterized by its two neoclassical towers and open-winged trumpeting archangel, was completed in 1922 and it is believed that the remains of first colonial governor, Diego Velázquez, are still buried underneath. Meticulously restored, the cathedral's interior is a magnificent mélange of intricate ceiling frescoes, hand-carved choir stalls and an altar honoring the venerated Virgen de la Caridad. The adjacent Museo Arquidiocesano is rather a disappointment by comparison, housing a dullish collection of furniture, liturgical objects and paintings including the Ecce homo, believed to be Cuba's oldest painting. Behind the cathedral and two blocks downhill from the park is the open-air Balcón de Velázquez, the site of an old Spanish fort which offers ethereal views over the terracotta-tiled roofs of the Tivolí neighborhood toward the harbor.