Museo de Ambiente Histórico Cubano

Top choice in Santiago de Cuba

The oldest house still standing in Cuba, this arresting early colonial abode dating from 1522 was the official residence of the island's first governor, Diego Velázquez. Restored in the late 1960s, the Andalusian-style facade with fine, wooden lattice windows was inaugurated in 1970 as a museum.

The ground floor was originally a trading house and gold foundry, while the upstairs was where Velázquez lived. Today, rooms display period furnishings and decoration from the 16th to 19th centuries. Check the two-way screens, where you could look out without being observed: a Turkish influence (Turkey had a big influence on European style at this time). Visitors are also taken through an adjacent 19th-century neoclassical house.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santiago de Cuba attractions

1. Parque Céspedes

0.03 MILES

Archetype for romantic Cuban street life, Parque Céspedes is a throbbing kaleidoscope of walking, talking, hustling, flirting, guitar-strumming humanity…

2. Ayuntamiento

0.03 MILES

The neoclassical Ayuntamiento was erected in the 1950s using a design from 1783 and was once the site of Hernán Cortés’ mayoral office. Fidel Castro…

4. Museo Arquidiocesano

0.05 MILES

The Museo Arquidiocesano houses a dullish collection of furniture, liturgical objects and paintings including the Ecce Homo, believed to be Cuba’s oldest…

5. Casa de la Cultura Miguel Matamoros

0.05 MILES

The Casa de la Cultura Miguel Matamoros, on Parque Céspedes' eastern aspect, is the former San Carlos Club, a social center for wealthy santiagüeros until…

6. Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen

0.08 MILES

You can dig deeper into Santiago's ecclesiastical history in this tumbledown construction, a hall church dating from the 1700s that is the final resting…

7. Balcón de Velázquez

0.08 MILES

The alfresco Balcón de Velázquez is the site of an old Spanish fort. It offers ethereal views over the terracotta-tiled roofs of the Tivolí neighborhood…

8. Maqueta de la Ciudad

0.11 MILES

Cuba is obsessed with scale city models, and Santiago, with this incredibly detailed maqueta, is no exception. Interesting historical and architectural…