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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Habana Vieja attractions

1. Iglesia y Convento de Santa Clara

0.16 MILES

South of Plaza Vieja is Havana's largest and oldest convent, built between 1638 and 1643, though since 1920 it has served no religious purpose. For a…

2. Iglesia Parroquial del Espíritu Santo

0.16 MILES

Havana’s oldest surviving church has been heavily remodeled since its founding as a hermitage, built by freed formerly enslaved black people in 1638. Most…

4. Museo de la Farmacia Habanera


A few blocks east of Plaza del Cristo, this grand wood-paneled store founded in 1886 by Catalan José Sarrá has been restored as both a museum and a…

5. Museo-Casa Natal de José Martí

0.21 MILES

Opened in 1925, this tiny museum, set in the house where the apostle of Cuban independence was born on January 28, 1853, is considered to be the oldest in…

6. Galería-Taller Gorría

0.22 MILES

Anchoring a new art project in the San Isidro quarter of Habana Vieja, this bold contemporary gallery is the brainchild of Cuban actor and artist Jorge…

7. Palacio de los Condes de Jaruco

0.25 MILES

This muscular mansion on Plaza Vieja's southwestern corner is one of the square's oldest, constructed in 1738 from local limestone in a transitional…

8. Vitrina de Valonia

0.25 MILES

Housed in a restored colonial mansion, this library and comic-book museum highlights the relationship between Belgium and Cuba, hosting Belgium Culture…