Baracoa in Cuba
Exploring Baracoa in Cuba
Baracoa is a city located in the eastern province of Guantanamo (Republic of Cuba). It was the first town founded by the Spanish in Cuba. In her the first cathedral that the country had was erected. It’s the oldest city of Cuba for being the first population that the Spanish founded in the island, with the name of Villa of Our Lady of the Assumption of Baracoa Cuba, on August 15, 1511, on having initiated the colonization of the Island in the 16th century. Its name is of Arawak origin, and means ‘highlands’.
Today, it is called Ciudad Primada de Cuba (Prime City of Cuba), Ciudad Paisaje (City of Landscapes), Ciudad de las Aguas (City of Waters) and Ciudad de las Montañas (City of Mountains); it is surrounded by mountainous massifs, adorned by a rigorous vegetation of virgin forests, full of endemic flora and fauna, with crystalline rivers and beaches surrounded by coves, almond and coconut trees, which makes it possess a distinctive stamp, if compared to the rest of the country. Declared a National Monument, the city is bathed by the Miel River and its natural attractions include the Toa, Yumurí and Yunque de Baracoa Cuba Rivers.
Admiral Christopher Columbus arrived in Baracoa Cuba on November 27, 1492. He found there a nature full of beauty, a kind and developed population, descendant of the Arawak, and an elevation that he described in his diary as “a high and square mountain that looked like an island”.
The choice of the site where the village would be created dates from 1510 or early 1511, with all the regulations that existed for it, but it was not until August 15, 1511 that Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded the village “Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa”, the first Spanish population on the island on the north-eastern coast, which the Indians called Baracoa Cuba (‘high land’ in the Arhuaco language).
- Museo Arqueológico ‘La Cueva del Paraíso’
- Parque Natural Majayara
- Fuerte Matachín
- Casa del Cacao
- Castillo de Seboruco
- Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
- Playa Duaba
- Fuerte de la Punta
- Bust of Hatuey
- Poder Popular de Baracoa Cuba
Parque Natural Majayara
Southeast of town in the Parque Natural Majayara are a couple of magical hikes and swimming opportunities plus an archeological trail in the grounds of a lush family farm. It’s a very low-key, DIY diversion.
Passing the Fuerte Matachín, hike southeast past the baseball stadium and along the dark-sand beach for 20 minutes to the Río Miel, where a long low bridge crosses the river. On the other side, bear left following a track up through a cluster of rustic houses to another junction. A guard post here is sometimes staffed by a park official collecting entry fees.
Turn left again and continue along the vehicle track until the houses clear and you see a signposted, single-track path leading off left to Playa Blanca, an idyllic spot for a picnic. Staying straight on the track, you’ll come to a trio of wooden homesteads. The third of these houses belongs to the Fuentes family. For a donation, Señor Fuentes will lead you on a hike to his family finca (farm), where you can stop for coffee and tropical fruit. Further on he’ll show you the Cueva de Aguas, a cave with a sparkling, freshwater swimming hole inside. Tracking back up the hillside you’ll come to an archeological trail with more caves and marvelous ocean views.
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
After years of neglect, Baracoa Cuba hurricane-battered historic cathedral has been lovingly restored using primarily Italian funding. There’s been a building on this site since the 16th century, though this present, much-altered, incarnation dates from 1833.
The church’s most famous artifact is the priceless Cruz de la Parra, the only survivor of 29 wooden crosses erected by Columbus in Cuba on his first voyage in 1492. Carbon dating has authenticated the age of the cross (it dates from the late 1400s), but has indicated it was originally made out of indigenous Cuban wood, thus disproving the legend that Columbus brought the cross from Europe.
Casa Del Cacao
Baracoa Cuba, you will quickly ascertain (via your nose), is the center of Cuba’s chocolate industry; cacao is grown hereabouts and subsequently chocolate-ized in a local factory. Thus this museum with cafe chronicles the history of cacao and its importance in eastern Cuba as well as offering cups full of the pure, thick stuff (hot or cold) in a pleasant indoor cafe. It also sells bars of dark, agreeably bitter Baracoan chocolate.