Bayamo, second town founded in Cuba by Diego Velázquez on November 5, 1513, with the name of San Salvador de Bayamo. This municipality is the capital of the province of Granma. It is one of the most important and richest cities in history, the main industrial city and rector of the economic, social and cultural development of the province, also considered the Cradle of the Cuban Nationality, where the National Anthem of Cuba was sung for the first time. Its historic urban center was declared a National Monument on October 10, 1978.
Bayamo’s Cuba name has two possible origins: one tendency is that it took the name of the cacique who led the area, but the most adept is that it is due to the existence of Bayamo, tree of wisdom, leafy and good shade, characteristic of the region.
Its history has very ancient roots. Before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1512 there was a cacicazgo with a significant indigenous population, very fertile land for agriculture and livestock as it was bathed by the river of the same name, with a strong flow that allowed navigation.
However, both the name and the exact location of its foundation are involved in the controversy. Only a year after Christopher Columbus arrived to the Cuban coasts, the Villa de San Salvador was founded by the Adelantado Diego Velázquez. This is the second enclave, after Baracoa.
The first settlement in Bayamo was not built on the current site. The story goes that it was in the area of Yara, but relying on documents of the time and archaeological excavations, specialists have shown that it was not there, but somewhere closer to the coast and the current city of Manzanillo.
When Bayamo in Cuba was founded, it took the name of San Salvador, because it was there that Cacique Hatuey was burned alive, a rebellious Indian who spread the truth about the intentions of the colonizers and became a real threat to Spanish interests. With Hatuey’s death, said Diego Velasquez, the conquest was saved.
- Parque Céspedes
- Casa Natal de Carlos Manuel de Céspedes
- Jardín Botánico de Cupaynicu
- Fabrica de los Coches
- Paseo Bayamés
- Museo de Cera
- Catedral de San Salvador de Bayamo Cuba
- Plaza de la Patria
- Parque Chapuzón
- Laguna de Leonero
- Parque Céspedes
One of Cuba’s leafiest squares, Bayamo’s Cuba central meeting point is surrounded by pedestrian-only streets, making it a rare and peaceful spot. In addition to its friendly airs and role as the city’s best outdoor music venue (orchestras regularly play here), the square is loaded with historical significance.
In 1868 Céspedes proclaimed Cuba’s independence for the first time in front of the columned Ayuntamiento. The square is surrounded by grand monuments and big trees loaded with bird life at dusk. Facing each other in the center are a bronze statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, hero of the First War of Independence, and a marble bust of Perucho Figueredo, with the lyrics of the Cuban national anthem (which he wrote), carved upon it.
Fabrica de los Coches
It’s worth the jaunt to observe the goings-on at Cuba’s only handcrafted coche (horse cart) production line. Most horse carts you’ll see in Cuba are metal, but these are fashioned in wood and take far longer to produce (up to three months per cart).
You’ll see horse carts in various stages of completion, meet the workers and be able to buy Bayamo’s Cuba best souvenir: miniature model horse carts with incredible attention to detail. The big ones cost about 8000 pesos (CUC$325) and don’t fit quite so well into a suitcase.
Museo de Cera
The tiny Museo de Cera, Bayamo’s Cuba diminutive version of Madame Tussauds, has convincing waxworks of Cuban personalities such as Polo Montanez, Benny More and local hero Carlos Puebla. On a more internationalist note, you’ll also find Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Hugo Chávez