Colegio de Belén, Havana

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Colegio de Belén
Colegio de Belen Logo. Havana, Cuba.jpg
Colegio de Belen. Havana, Cuba.jpg
Colegio de Belen, Havana
Former namesColegio de Belén
General information
Architectural styleEclectic
Town or city Coat of arms of La Habana.svg Ciudad de La Habana
Country Flag of Cuba.svg Cuba
Coordinates 23°05′46″N82°25′01″W / 23.096°N 82.417°W / 23.096; -82.417 Coordinates: 23°05′46″N82°25′01″W / 23.096°N 82.417°W / 23.096; -82.417
Current tenantsCuban military
Named forThe Palace of Education
OwnerCuban military
Technical details
Structural systemSteel frame
Floor count4
Grounds60 Acres
Design and construction
Architect Leonardo Morales y Pedroso
Architecture firmMorales & Cia

The Colegio de Belén located between 45th and 66th streets – situated next door to the Tropicana nightclub – in Marianao, Havana, was designed in 1925 by the architect Leonardo Morales y Pedroso of the firm Morales & Ciaas.



Convento Belen (1854-1925), Calle Compostela, between Luz y Acosta, 1854-1925, Havana Vieja. Belen School 1854-1925.jpg
Convento Belén (1854-1925), Calle Compostela, between Luz y Acosta, 1854-1925, Havana Vieja.

Her Majesty Isabella II, Queen of Spain, issued a royal charter in the year 1854 founding the Colegio de Belén (Belen School) in Havana, Cuba. Belen began its educational work in the building formerly occupied by the convent and convalescent hospital of Our Lady of Belen in Havana Vieja. A meteorological observatory was established in 1857. A facility was built in 1896. [1]

The building was constructed on sixty acres of land that had been donated and was to be used as the main building of the Colegio de Belén. The original building, a convent in Havana Vieja had been opened since 1854 within the premises of the formerly occupied convent and convalescent hospital of Our Lady of Belen. Those premises had become unsuitable and badly located due to the change of atmosphere in the neighborhood and the growth of the city. The project was designed by the Cuban architectural firm of Morales & Cia (Leonardo Morales y Pedroso) in 1925, with an unlimited budget for designing a religious school, the Colegio de Belén, Havana. [2]

Exterior hallway. Colegio de Belen, lower level hallway, Marianao, Havana, Cuba.jpg
Exterior hallway.

From 1925 to 1961, and located in the Marianao municipality, on an area of approximately 190,000 m2, emerged in the twenties of the last century, the new building with plans approved in Rome by Wlodimiro Ledochowsky, General of the Society of Jesus , in June 1921.

In mid-1923 the construction of this property was started, carried out by the company Ingenieros y Arquitectos Morales y Co., being built nine radiating pavilions, a central chapel of three floors, an entrance pavilion that had a fourth level where it was located the observatory. Its inaugural activities were carried out on December 19, 20 and 21, 1925, beginning its first course in January 1926. [3]

The result was a monumental pan-optical edifice with an extensive neoclassical façade perpendicular to the large chapel and four large courtyards, recalling the building housing the convent in Havana Vieja, with three stories of porticoed galleries to link nine radial pavilions, the appearance is of instrumentality which is supported both in the design resources and the unusual dimensions of the spaces. The structure is built from concrete-covered steel structure, the flooring, covered with tiles, and roof are monolithic, reinforced concrete slabs.


Chapel Belen School chapel Havana abt 1955.jpg

The chapel was centrally located in plan, it had a wide central nave of triple height with a mural by Hipolito Hidalgo de Caviedes (1901–1994). It had two side aisles. El Colegio de Belen was known as "The Palace of Education." It was a Cuban National Monument.

Rectors in the first Belen school

Calle Compostela, between Luz y Acosta (Havana, 1854-1925).

Rectors in the new premises of Marianao


NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Luis E. Aguilar Leon 1944Writer and Professor Emeritus of Georgetown University [5]
Xavier Briggs 1985Currently serving as Associate Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under President Barack Obama; former senior policy official at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton; Professor of Sociology and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a former faculty member of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government [5]
Jorge I. Dominguez 1963Faculty member at Harvard University, Academy for International and Area Studies [5]
Alberto Martinez Piedra 1946Former US Ambassador to Guatemala and Professor at The Institute of World Politics [5]
Salvador Miranda 1958Church historian and librarian [6]

Politicians, Cuba

NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Miguel Ángel de la Campa y Caraveda 1900Cuban Foreign Minister, Attorney General, diplomat [5]
Fidel Castro 1944Former president and prime minister of Cuba [5]
Raul Castro AttendedFormer president and prime minister of Cuba
Antonio Prío Socarrás 1923Cuban Minister of Housing, 1948-1952 [5]
Carlos Prío Socarrás 192116th President of Cuba [5]
Francisco Prío Socarrás 1920Cuban Senator, 1944-1952 [5]
Antonio Sánchez de Bustamante y Sirven 1883Cuban Senator (1902–1918), author, and jurist (Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague (1922-1942), nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize of 1949 [5]


NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Carlos Finlay FacultyPhysician and epidemiologist; proposed the mode of transmission of yellow fever

See also

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  1. Mariano Gutiérrez-Lanza (1904). Apuntes historicos acerca del Observatorio del Colegio de Belén, Habana (in Spanish). Havana: Impr. Avisador comercial.
  2. "Belen Jesuit Preparatory School" . Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  3. "Colegio de Belén" . Retrieved 2021-03-21.
  4. "El Colegio de Belén La Habana Cuba 1854 - 1961" . Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 The International Jesuit Alumni Directory Belen (Forum Press Inc., 1994)
  6. Nardini, Bob (April 2010). "Issues in Vendor/Library Relations -- "I Am the Only Bay of Pigs Librarian"". Against the Grain: Vol. 22: Iss. 2, Article 39.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)


Images from the 1940s and 50s of the Colegio de Belen: