Rising over the plaza off the southeast corner is Palacio Cueto. Built in 1906 with an elaborately adorned façade featuring griffins, satyrs and other mythical figures, it’s reminiscent of the modernist constructions built by Gaudi in Barcelona and is perhaps the most famous art nouveau building in Havana. Originally, it was a storage and hat factory until the 1920s when it was leased by José Cueto, who turned it into the Palacio Viena Hotel, later to be converted into an apartment building.
Empty and unused since the 1990s, it is now being restored as a deluxe hotel by the City Historian’s Office in a stop-and-start renovation that has been ongoing, with relatively little progress, for more than a decade.
In 1988 its façade featured in the Cuban movie Vals para La Habana.