One of the most distinguished buildings of colonial Cuba, this mid-17-century mansion built in 1648 stands out for its wide spatial layout, the lovely central courtyard, ample galleries, colored decorative friezes and, most prominently, an elaborately sculpted baroque limestone portal made in 1686 in Cadiz, Spain.
Before his death, the owner—Don Martín Calvo de la Puerta y Arrieta—left the amount of 102 thousand gold pesos that were to be used to provide dowries every year to five orphans so that ‘without losing their integrity and decency they could bear strong and sturdy children’. This pious act would later give name to this street: Calle de la Obra Pía or Pious Act Street.
Opened as a museum in 1983, it is devoted to recreating Cuban customs and traditions of the 19th century, with emphasis on colonial furniture and linen goods used by the aristocracy of the time. A permanent collection of objects belonging to Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier is also housed here, including the blue Volkswagen he used when he was Cuban ambassador to UNESCO in Paris. It is also home to the sisterhood of embroiderers and weavers of Belén, one of the Old Havana guilds that are being revived.