Spacious Parque Central is the social epicenter of Habana Vieja. The park—bounded by the Prado, Neptuno, Zulueta, and San Martín—is presided over by stately royal palms shading a marble statue of José Martí. Erected on the 10th anniversary of the national hero’s death, it was sculpted by José Vilalta de Saavedra and inaugurated in 1905.
Baseball fanatics gather at a point called esquina caliente (“hot corner”) to discuss and argue the intricacies of pelota (baseball).
Parque Central is surrounded by historic hotels, including the triangular Hotel Plaza (Zulueta #267), built in 1909, on the northeast face of the square. In 1920, Babe Ruth stayed in room 216, preserved as a museum with his signed bat and ball in a case.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition