Being a bibliophile with a love of antiques, when I heard that Havana had a book market several times a week, I just knew I had to go. It was located in the Plaza de Armas, part of the UNESCO heritage site of Old Havana. The plaza was constructed in the 16th century and was apparently originally used for military events and government ceremonies. Today, it is a beautiful square, a place where the pen is centre stage rather than the sword.
Any book lover will enjoy spending an hour or so just browsing the rather random selection available. Various book sellers are scattered around square, their books lined up on shelves and bookcases. Books range from classics to fiction to history to who knows what else. They are mostly in Spanish but there is a smattering of foreign languages represented as well. The sad state of some of the older books and the antique books is a little heartbreaking and you almost want to buy them all just so you can take them out of the sunlight and humidity. But unless you’re a millionaire, you won’t be able to – the books here are more expensive than one would think. However, I do fully acknowledge that I seriously suck at bargaining… if books aren’t your thing, the plaza is still worth checking out since there are other antique-y things around such as stamps, medals, coins, etc. These items would make a much cooler souvenir than the typical tourist knick-knacks.
The book market is a great place to indulge in a little bit of people watching as well. Just find a bench under one of the grand old trees and just soak up the atmosphere. You may get serenaded by a wandering musician, though! If one starts wandering over to you, casually get up and wander around the edges of the plaza to check out the architecture – it’s Havana…no matter where you are in Old Havana, there will always be an interesting piece of architecture to look at!
Have you bought anything at this book market? Were you successful in bargaining unlike me?