Hidden Gems – Liverpool’s Oldest Catholic Church, Alma de Cuba
Liverpool is world renowned for its impressive array of architectural style and the vast number of grandiose cultural buildings; the city boasts more listed buildings than any other UK city outside of London.
Some are rarely, if ever, open to the public, while others might be landmarks you pass on a regular basis or renovation projects you didn’t even know existed.
One of these hidden gems is St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church or as it’s known today, Alma de Cuba.
Located on Seel Street, this vibrant bar was once Liverpool’s oldest Catholic Church and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.
Liverpool’s abundance of beautiful cultural buildings make it a city that is truly steeped in history. These buildings are a symbol of our past and an essential part of our city’s future.
So delve back in time and discover the secrets that lie behind one of Liverpool’s most iconic bars, Alma de Cuba.
The History Behind Alma de Cuba
St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church was erected in 1788 by Benedictine Father McDonald in what was then almost a rural area, abundant with grassy fields and lush greenery.
Originally, the structure was very simplistic and featured basic brickwork and limited unique features. But in later years the masonry style rendering was applied, the church was enlarged, stained glass windows were installed and in 1845 The Sanctuary was added.
Over a period of 188 years, St Peter’s served as a Catholic building until 1976 when it was taken over by the Polish community. It was renamed Our Lady of Czestochowa and during this time it was affectionately known as the ‘Polish Church’.
However, this period of its service did not last long. In 1978 the church closed and subsequently fell into a state of disrepair over a number of years.
The Church is Saved
After a long period of dereliction, the church was finally bought by developers who undertook a huge regeneration project to restore the once beautiful building to its former glory.
Originally the developer intended to transform the church into offices, however, plans changed and it eventually opened in 2005 as the restaurant Alma de Cuba.
This unique restaurant and bar was converted by architects and sympathetically restored to retain many of the original features from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries including the upstairs galleries, the king post roof, the beautiful altar and the stained glass windows.
Known as ‘The Soul of Cuba’, Alma de Cuba was famous for its carnival spirit and won numerous awards, quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations in the centre of Liverpool.
An iconic destination, the building was the first church in Liverpool to be transformed into a social venue.
Today and the Future
Over the years, Alma de Cuba has continued to grow into an immensely impressive bar and restaurant that hosts a range of amazing events. It is renowned for its fusion of Cuban, Hispanic and Latin American influences, creating a unique experience that can’t be found elsewhere.
From Samba Afternoon Tea with a distinct carnival atmosphere to Rumba Night every Friday and a wide variety of live music, Alma is a must on the Liverpool nightlife scene.
Recently bought by Signature Living, they have announced some big plans for the future of this ever growing bar.
They are planning to further expand the Alma name by creating a new speakeasy bar within Alma de Cuba’s crypt. Never opened to the public before, the crypt is the perfect venue for an underground bar.
Signature Living have also announced plans to open a luxury adjoining hotel to Alma de Cuba via a tunnel.
The company currently own a range of hotels across the city including the Signature Living Hotel, Shankly Hotel and 30 James Street Hotel.
Each of these hotels have brought something new and exciting to Liverpool, so there’s no doubt that the future is bright for Alma de Cuba, the oldest Catholic Church in Liverpool.
So don’t forget to pay this amazing bar a visit and if all this talk of samba and rumba has got you in the party mood, check out our best rum bars to visit in Liverpool and really get the carnival going.