Basílica Menor de San Francisco de Asís
|Convento de San Francisco de Asís|
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Active|
|Height (max)||42 metres (138 ft)|
The Basílica Menor of San Francisco de Asís (Minor Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi) is a Franciscan convent in the district of Old Havana, Cuba. Its construction began in 1548 and lasted until 1591, although it was inaugurated in 1575, it was badly damaged by storms in 1680 and 1692, and by a hurricane that broke down its tower in 1694. Started in its current form in 1716, it was completely completed almost 200 years later, with a series of structural reforms from 1731 to 1738.
The facade is located in the Calle Oficios where are observed three stone statues representing the Immaculate Conception, Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic. It attained its current status of Minor Basilica in 1739. The adjacent Plaza de San Francisco de Asís was inaugurated in 1628. Along with the rest of Old Havana, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.
The basilica was used by the English for their worship during the year in which they ruled Havana. The Siege of Havana was a military action that lasted from March to August of 1762, and was a part of the Seven Years' War. British forces besieged and captured the city of Havana, which at the time was an important Spanish naval base, the British dealt a serious blow to the Spanish Navy. Havana was subsequently returned to Spain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war. When it returned to Spanish rule, they chose not to use it as a church. It is now used for concerts. Attached to the Basilica is a bell tower (138-ft). Originally a statue of St. Francis of Assisi stood on the top of the bell tower but it was destroyed by a cyclone in 1846. Today a statue of Fray Junípero Serra with Juaneño Indian boy stands next to the basilica.
The cloister of the adjacent monastery which dates back to 1739 now houses a museum of sacred art. In front of the Basilica on the sidewalk stands a bronze life-size statue by Jose Villa Soberon of José María López Lledín known as El Caballero de Paris (1899–1985) is buried inside the Basilica.
The Basillica in 1762 during the British occupation. Painting by Dominic Serres.
- "Historia y arquitectura". lahabana.com.
- Portal de la Oficina del Historiador. "Reseña histórica-Convento de San Francisco de Asís" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 17 January 2013.
- Cuba - Eyewitness Travel Guides (Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2004) ISBN 0-7566-0172-X
- Havana (Lonely Planet Publications,2001) ISBN 1-86450-229-0
- The Odyssey Illustrated Guide To Cuba (Guidebook Company Ltd., 1995) ISBN 962-217-370-5
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