Parque de los Enamorados

Park in Habana Vieja

In Parque de los Enamorados (Lovers' Park), surrounded by speeding traffic, lies a section of the colonial Cárcel (aka Tacón Prison), built in 1838. Many Cuban patriots, including José Martí, were imprisoned in this brutal place, which sent inmates to perform hard labor in the nearby San Lázaro quarry. The prison was demolished in 1939, and this park is dedicated to the memory of those who suffered so terribly within its walls. Two tiny cells and a chapel are all that remain.

Behind the park, the beautiful wedding-cake-like building (art nouveau with a dash of eclecticism) flying the Spanish flag is the old Palacio Velasco, now the Spanish embassy.

Beyond that, on a traffic island, is the Memorial a los Estudiantes de Medicina. A fragment of wall encased in marble, it marks the spot where eight Cuban medical students were shot by the Spanish in 1871 in reprisal for allegedly desecrating the tomb of a Spanish journalist.