Iglesia y Convento de Nuestra Señora de Belén

Habana Vieja

This huge building dating from the early 18th century first functioned as a free school and convalescent home run by the Belemitas order. It was taken over by the Jesuits after they returned to Cuba in the 1850s and they ran it for 75 years as a college with an attached meteorological station that studied climate science. In 2019 a museum dedicated to meteorology and climatology was opened to honor the convent’s erstwhile role. It’s spread over five floors in the main tower.

The Belén was abandoned in 1925 when the Jesuits moved their college to Marianao. It subsequently fell into disrepair, exacerbated in 1991 by a damaging fire. The City Historian reversed the decline in the late 1990s, using tourist coffers to transform it into an active community center for those with physical and mental disabilities, and the elderly (there are 18 apartments for senior citizens). The convent’s former church is currently being refurbished.