The City of Cienfuegos, also known as the Pearl of the South, is the second most important port in Cuba and the capital of the province of the same name (previously it belonged to the province of Las Villas).
It owes its origin to the interest of the Spanish colonial authorities to develop new cities on the island.
Arranged around the country’s most spectacular natural bay, Cienfuegos is a nautical city founded in 1819 by French émigrés, whose homogeneous grid of elegant classical architecture earned it a Unesco World Heritage Site listing in 2005.
Geographically, the city is split into two distinct parts: the colonnaded central zone with its stately Paseo del Prado and graceful park; and Punta Gorda, a thin knife of land slicing into the bay with a clutch of outrageously eclectic palaces built by the moneyed classes in the 1920s.
Main Sights in Cienfuegos city
- Teatro Tomás Terry
- Palacio de Valle
- Palacio Ferrer – Museo de las Artes
- Castillo de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua
- Cementerio la Reina
- Necrópolis Tomás Acea
- Catedral de la Purísima Concepción Church
- Arco de Triunfo
- Palacio de Gobierno
Palacio de Gobierno
Most of Parque José Martí’s south side is dominated by this grandiose, silvery-gray building where the provincial government (Poder Popular Provincial) operates.
The palace of Cienfuegos city doesn’t allow visitors, but you can steal a look at the palatial main staircase through the front door. It’s in wonderful condition. From the outside the giant dome and thick frontal columns are magnificent, even by Cienfuegos city standards.
Arco de Triunfo
Prepare yourself: it’s smaller than the one in Paris, but the Arch of Triumph on the western edge of Cienfuegos’ serene central park catapults the plaza into the unique category: there is no other construction of its kind in Cuba.
Dedicated to Cuban independence, the Francophile monument ushers you through its gilded gateway toward a marble statue of revolutionary and philosopher José Martí.
Catedral de la Purísima Concepción Church
On the eastern side of Parque José Martí, Cienfuegos cathedral dates from 1869 and is distinguished by its French stained-glass windows in an otherwise austere interior that has long been awaiting a thorough restoration.
Chinese writing discovered on columns is thought to date from the 1870s.