The wide, fig-tree-lined boulevard called Fifth Avenue, or “Quinta,” runs ruler-straight through the heart of Miramar . It is flanked by mansions, many of which have been restored and are now occupied by various Cuban commercial agencies or leased to foreign corporations. Quinta Avenida (5ta Av.) is also “Embassy Row.” The broad central median is tailor-made for walking the boulevard’s eight-kilometer length.
Begin at the Edificio Fraxas, a restored Beaux-Arts mansion on the north side of Quinta at Calle 2. Walking west you’ll arrive, after four blocks, at Calle 10, pinned by Reloj de Quinta Avenida, a large clock erected in 1924 in the central median. At Calle 12, cross to the north side of the street to visit the Museo del Ministerio del Interior ; then, one block west, cross to the south side to admire the stained glass and large cigar collection in the Casa del Habano (5ta, e/ 14 y 16).
Continue west four blocks to Calle 24, where Parque de los Ahorcados (Park of the Hanged), spanning Quinta between Calles 24 and 26, is shaded by massive jagüey trees, seemingly supported by their aerial roots dangling like cascades of water. On the south side of the road is Plaza Emiliano Zapata, with a life-size stone statue of Zapata, Mexico’s revolutionary hero; on the north side is Parque Prado, with a Romanesque temple and a bronze bust to Mahatma Gandhi.
Rising over the west side of Parque Prado is Iglesia de Santa Rita de Casia (5ta, esq. Calle 26, tel. 07/204-2001). This exemplar of modernist church architecture dates from 1942 and mixes neocolonial and modern features. Its main feature is a modernist statue of Santa Rita by Rita Longa.
The next 10 blocks are lined with gracious mansions, many of them foreign embassies.
Crossing Calle 60, call in at the modernist-style Romanesque Iglesia San Antonio de Padua (Calle 60 #316, esq. 5ta, tel. 07/203-5045), which dates from 1951 and boasts a magnificent, albeit nonfunctional, organ.
One block west, on the north side of Quinta, you pass a monstrous Cubist tower that can be seen virtually the length of the avenue. Formerly the Soviet Embassy, it is now the Russian Embassy (5ta, e/ 62 y 66).
At Calle 70, on your left is the Occidental Miramar hotel and, on your right, the Miramar Trade Center.
One block farther, on the south side of Quinta, rises the massive Roman-Byzantine-style Basilica Jesús de Miramar (5ta #8003, e/ 80 y 82, tel. 07/203-5301, daily 9 a.m.–noon and 4–6 p.m.), built in 1953 with a magnificent organ with 5,000 pipes. The restored church features 14 splendid oversize paintings of the Stations of the Cross by Spanish artist César Hombrados Oñativa.