Plaza del Carmen, a very unique place

Those who visit the city of Camaguey, even though they are recidivists, never cease to succumb to the charm of its layout in the form of a skein, spider or broken plate. Still, no one loses the opportunity to travel through its urban center, declared by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage of Humanity on July 7, 2008.

Within the 54 hectares that make up its urban center stands the Plaza del Carmen, built in the nineteenth century and which was a settlement of blacks and mulattoes. In it all the houses maintain the primitive colonial style characterized by hinges that separate them from the streets.

Just in the alley of Marti, one of the shortest in the historic center, to have only forty steps, intersect Marti street with the Plaza del Carmen. At present, the greatest charm of this square is the sculptural set to life size where the Camagueyan artist Martha Jimenez recreated the life and customs of the community.

The ensemble is composed of seven sculptures, modeled in clay, in natural size by the technique of the lost mold, unique of its type, as confessed by the famous artist. Martha would like to incorporate the water element into a fountain.

Now, as part of the Ciudad 500 Program started in 2007, and whose first stage concluded precisely on February 2, 2014 when the 500th anniversary of the Villa was celebrated, Martha's works will be cast in bronze, thanks to the solidarity support of the Caguayo Foundation.


In front of the sculptural group is located the workshop of the artist, a very special and welcoming place, because of the aura that emanates from it. This has been confessed by such personalities as Dr. Eusebio Leal, historian of Havana, and artist Miguel Barnet, president of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, in his many visits to the studio.

But the studio is not just a place for work and the expo-sale of works. It is also home to a community project led by the ceramist. On alternate Saturdays the painter transmits to the new generations her knowledge of art, the customs and humor.

The Community Workshop "Brush with Soul of Kiss" is aimed at the creation, motivation, creativity and aesthetic appreciation of children whose ages range from six to twelve years.


The Plaza del Carmen has become a place sui generis for its sculptures of local characters, their vases and their banks. Precisely in one of those banks we met Norberto Subirats Betancourt, an octogenarian from Camaguey who was immortalized by Martha through the sculpture of The Reader, sitting on a clay stool and ground marmoline.

One day in 2002, the author of the Sculptural Ensemble discovered the old man reading the newspaper near the Plaza. Remember the gentleman, that he had to model for a month, in which he sat several hours daily on a wooden platform.

For him is the greatest thing that could happen to him in life. Every day they ask him about the experience, tourists from California, Los Angeles, Russia, Spain and, of course, his beloved Cuba.

The man who played the man with the wheelbarrow died a while ago, but his neighbors will always remember him every time they pass by the side of the sculpture. Grooms and gossipers do not portray anyone in particular, they are the fusion of several people from the community.

A colleague asks Martha why there are three gossipers in front of an empty chair. The sculptress, smiling, explains that with the chair she wanted to start a legend and she succeeded. Today many people sit in it and ask for a wish in the hope that they will grant it. The chair has become a symbol of dreams and hopes.

Gossipers were not always large works. With this piece in small format Martha obtained an important prize awarded by UNESCO during one of the editions of the International Handicraft Fair, FIART. From the prize, the Office of the Conservative, proposed by the writer Roberto Mendez, proposed to perform them on a large scale for their location in the square.

Already the sculptures of Martha will not be of clay, a fundamental element for the identity of the Camagueyans by its importance in the construction of houses and the making of jars, bricks and roofs of tiles.

This sculptural ensemble has given international fame to the Plaza del Carmen. That is why the sculptures deserve to be cast in bronze so that they endure for centuries and continue giving the square a unique attraction.

These sculptures were located in the vicinity of the Church of Carmen, architectonic jewel of Camaguey, for being an example of the sober baroque architecture. At one end of the temple, is located the Office of the Historian of the City, with which Martha maintains excellent professional relations.

Many are the reasons to visit this place, considered as the second most preserved Colonial Set of the fourth Cuban town, founded by the Spanish five centuries ago.

Author: Maya Quiroga
Source: Cuba Ahora