So called for its use as a drill field by colonial troops, this plaza was the city's administrative center and command post almost from the beginning. The statue in the center is of Manuel de Céspedes, hero of the Ten Years War, Cuba's first struggle for independence from Spain. Today, this is the city's most literary square; an army of erudite secondhand booksellers encircles it during the day.
Nearby is the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, across from which
are El Templete and the Castillo de la Real Fuerza. Note that there are often concerts in the plaza on Sunday evenings—events not to be missed.
As home to the UNESCO Cultural Library and the Instituto Cubano del Libro (Cuban Book Institute), the Palacio del Segundo Cabo (7/862–8091), on the northwestern corner of Plaza de Armas, is a haven for literati of every spot and stripe. They come for lectures and readings, to buy books in the on-site shops, and to see films and art exhibitions.