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.
On the northwestern corner of Plaza de Armas is the Palacio del Segundo Cabo, which at the time of writing was undergoing renovation. When complete, it will become the Center for Interpretation of the Cultural Relations between Cuba and Europe. Opposite this, on the other side of the plaza, you'll find the Museo Nacionale de Historia Natural de Cuba (Cuba's Natural History Museum), which is home to a rich collection of Cuban flora and fauna, as well as various mineral samples and fossils.