As part of the restored works in greeting to the 500th anniversary of Havana, for a few months the Office of the City Historian reopened the Observatory Museum of the Convento of Belén. In the spectator you will find information about the historical evolution of meteorology and climatology in Cuba, and, in particular, the meteorological, geomagnetic and astronomical observatory that worked in this place for 67 years.
In 1854, the government of the Island handed over a part of the Convent of Bethlehem to the Society of Jesus to establish a secondary school. In 1896 a third level was added to the building on the south wing of the main façade, destined for the Observatory library and a room for weather forecasts and climatological works. With the extension another floor was added, destined to the meteorological tower and to the measuring instruments.
In the twentieth century the last transformations were made in the Convent. Between 1904 and 1910 the third level was
completed in the north wing of the façade, and the astronomical tower was erected, in which today is the Observatory Museum. In 1925, the Colegio de Belén moved to its new facilities in the area of Buenavista, in Marianao.
At the end of the nineties of last century, the OHCH began the restoration and rehabilitation of the building, which today occupies one of the largest blocks in the Historic Center of the Cuban capital.
With the Observatory Museum, installed in the old Convent of Bethlehem, the memory of those who from education, medicine, meteorology and other disciplines, opened trails of glory in the field of science in Cuba will be perpetuated.
The installation occupies the northwest tower of the building, with five levels, three exhibition rooms, multipurpose room, meteorological station and astronomical observatory. It is equipped with means for visualization and digital link, and a terrace-viewpoint 24 meters above sea level, which provides a panoramic view of the oldest environment of the Cuban capital.
As a round trip to the past, the public can learn about the history of the installation through images, texts and objects related to the work of the Convent of Bethlehem, from its origins to its transfer to Marianao; of meteorology in Cuba, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries; your most important institutions and personalities; the first hurricane documented in Havana, on December 31, 1557; the classification of tropical cyclones, as well as the chronology in the four stages of the history of the National Meteorological Service of Cuba and its main events.
The visitor will also be informed about the most intense meteors that have left their mark in the history of the nation, or that have caused great human and material damage, and will admire a sample of meteorological and astronomical instruments, at the same time that it will be able to use some from them. Also, archaeological pieces discovered in excavations in the areas of the church and the convent will be exhibited.