This important street goes back to 1519, only four years after the founding of Havana. It was conceived as a narrow thoroughfare to protect the people from the sun. Throughout its existence, it has had several names, some popular and some not. In 1936, it was again identified as Obispo when the streets were given back their original names. One of the gates that gave access to the city beyond the walls was precisely on Obispo Street. Public buildings, stores, cafes, drugstores, bakeries and hotels were built along this street.
The street was always busy because it went through to Plaza de Armas. Busy as ever, today Obispo is great for strolling and bustles with life–courtesy of a blend of tourists and locals (including plenty of hustlers). It’s lined with shops offering handicrafts, art and books, plus bars, restaurants and holes-in-the-wall selling cheap pizzas and ice-cream.