Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced – Old Havana, Cuba

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced church - Cuba

 

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced Cuba Jesus statue

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced or “Church of Our Lady of Mercy” is a hidden gem located in the southern end of Old Havana. This church is hands down one of the most beautiful that Havana has. However it can be a little difficult to find, which adds to the adventure!

About Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced

The construction of Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced began in 1637, ending in the following century. The jaw-droppingly surreal interior dates all the way from the 19th century, leaving the visitor feeling as though they have entered a medieval realm. The intricate murals wrapping the ceiling are very Sistine Chapel-esque, really conveying a European-cathedral kind of vibe.

Many churchgoers of Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced practice the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. Local practitioners believe Our Lady of Merced relates to a Yoruba divinity called Obatala. Obatala is a main “god” who protects mankind imparting wisdom and harmony.

Surrounding the church are life-size statues of cheribum, saints, Jesus Christ, and other Biblical figures. Each painting on the wall telling a Biblical story, almost like a movie frames. 19th Century artists visualizing the stories they had heard in mass.

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced Cuba panorama

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced Old Havana, Cuba map

Directions to Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced is one of the harder churches to find in Habana Vieja, or Old Havana. Located outside of the main tourist plaza areas, the church is not accessible by car. On the map, you will see #17 circled in red. This is where Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced is located within Old Havana, Cuba.

The streets are so narrow you must go by bike. On my way looking for the church I found a cheap bike taxi there for only $3. The driver’s name was Fidel ironically enough. However unlike many of the other Cubans I spoke with, Fidel was not a fan of Fidel Castro.

 

 

Central America not your thing? Check out Top 6 Must See European Countries to Visit on a European Holiday.

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Originally from Chicago, now traveling around the world while working remotely as a web designer / developer. A Christian trying to be a shining light in a dark world.

3 Comments

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    Linda Bibb March 26, 2019 at 2:14 am Reply

    I find it interesting that so many cultures in the western hemisphere have managed to blend Roman Catholicism and their pagan practices into something unique. Their beliefs are neither wholly African nor biblically Christian. Compounding Santeria with Cuba’s 60-odd years of communist rule, I think it would be a fascinating culture to study.

    On another note, that is one beautiful church! It appears that Havana is full of beautiful treasures. We haven’t made it to Cuba yet, but I’m really inspired to see it.

    • travel His world
      travel His world March 26, 2019 at 3:11 am Reply

      You’re absolutely right. Cuba is a great example of this blend of paganism with Christianity or Catholicism, because so many Africans brought it over. I heard from a few locals that Catholicism isn’t even the largest religion there anymore, and has been replaced with these types of Santeria and Voodoo.

  • Things to do in Havana, Cuba: Fábrica de Arte Cubano - travel His world March 30, 2019 at 11:52 pm Reply

    […] to do in Havana, Cuba? Havana has some of the most beautiful churches in all of Latin America. Visit Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced in […]

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