Avenida Máximo Gómez
Avenida Máximo Gómez (popularly called Monte; the name changes to Calzada de Cerro west of Infanta) snakes southwest from Parque de la Fraternidad and connects Habana Vieja with Cerro. During the 19th century, scores of summer homes in classical style were erected here, each more extravagantly Italianate than the next.
It has been described by writer Paul Goldberger as “one of the most remarkable streets in the world: three unbroken kilometers of 19th-century neoclassical villas, with colonnaded arcades making an urban vista of heartbreaking beauty.” Heartbreaking is correct. The avenue ascends southward, marching backward into the past like a classical ruin, with once-stunning arcades and houses collapsing behind decaying facades.
One of the most splendid mansions still extant is the Quinta del Conde de Santovenia (Calzada de Cerro #1424, e/ Patria y Auditor), erected in 1845 in subdued neoclassical style, with a 1929 neo-Gothic chapel addition. It has served as a home for the elderly (hogar de ancianos) for more than a century.
Farther west, one block south of Calzada de Cerro, is the tiny Plaza de Galicia (Peñon, esq. Santo Tomás). Shaded by venerable ceiba trees and bougainvillea bowers, the square features the diminutive Iglesia de Peñon, with a Corinthian frontage and round spire. Iglesia de San Nicolás, on San Nicolás one block west of Monte, is another tiny church with a circular bell tower.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition