Exploring the city
Guantanamo is a city located in southeastern Cuba. It is also the capital of the province of Guantánamo, the province where the U.S. base of Guantánamo has been located since 1903. Most of its inhabitants live from the production of salt, cocoa, tomato, sugar cane and coffee.
Located 965 km from the capital of the country (Havana), is composed of plains of marine origin, abrasive-denudative and fluvial marine, deltaic, slightly undulating in part swampy. The subsoil is made up of limestones, calcarenites and Miocene loams. It is a highly populated area, where poor use or exploitation of groundwater has led to the salinization of soils in some sectors.
History of Guantanamo
When the Spaniards arrived, this region was inhabited by Taino aborigines. The Tainos, who were known for being potters and farmers, were also one of the most rebellious groups in their rejection of the Spanish conqueror.
The town was founded in 1796 with the name of Santa Catalina de Guantánamo in the center of the Guantánamo Valley, a fertile region in which numerous sugar mills and mills were established, taking advantage of the existence of three rivers of economic importance: the Bano, the Jaibo and the Guaso.
Main Sights en Guantanamo
- Zoologico de piedras
More than five hundred pieces carved in stones exhibit in the only Zoo with these characteristics in the world, located in the guantanamero municipality of Yateras. Nearly 40 years old, the facility remains open to the public, both foreign and domestic.
Located in the province of Guantanamo, in the Finca San Lorenzo, is one of the major attractions that distinguish the easternmost province of Cuba. Numerous pieces, with motifs of the animal and social life of the country astonish those who visit this installation.
A bohío, an arria de bueyes and the most exotic animals of the African savannah or the Cuban mountains can be found immortalized in stone, thanks to the sensibility and the dedicated work of Ángel Íñigo Blanco.
On December 21, 1977, Íñigo Blanco decided to go beyond the small sculptures of wax and clay, to work on the making of a lion, which marked the beginning of the 426 sculptures carved in limestone, made during more than 29 years. His son Ángel Íñigo Pérez and a group of installation workers continue the work and are also in charge of restoring the sculptures.
- Palacio Salcines
The Salcines Palace, one of the most relevant and significant buildings in the historic centre of this eastern city, is proudly exhibited in Guantánamo. Its haughtiness and beauty enhances it as the maximum expression of the eclectic architecture built in the second decade of the twentieth century.
The building was designed by the architect José Lecticio Salcines for the family. In fact, it is one of his first works, after graduating in 1913 from the University of Havana as Architect and Civil and Electrical Engineer.
Influenced by the currents of the Beaux Arts ewl, Salcines designs and supervises the work until 1919, date in which the project concludes, that initially conceived only for two levels, nevertheless, during the execution it decided to incorporate a third one.
The construction stands in a central corner of the villa on an almost square corner. As a whole, it is founded on columns and beams of reinforced concrete, with doors where curved lines and exquisite sculptures stand out, which reach an extreme planimetric independence.
- Parque Martí
Anchored in the small parish of Santa Catalina de Riccis in 1863, the renovated Parque Martí has information boards and an endless number of interesting shops, restaurants and entertainment corners along vibrant boulevards. In the middle of the action is a seated statue of “El Maestro”, from whom the square takes its name.
- Plaza Mariana Grajales
The enormous and pompous Monument to the Heroes, which glorifies the Border Brigade `which defends the trench ahead of socialism in this continent’, dominates the Mariana Grajales Square, 1 km northwest of the train station and in front of the Guantánamo Hotel. It is one of the most impressive ‘squares of the revolution’ on the island.
- Biblioteca Policarpo Pineda Rustán
An architectural gift from Leticio Salcines is this beautiful provincial library that was once the town hall (1934-51). The trials of Fulgencio Batista’s thugs were held here in 1959, and several died when they took a rifle and tried to escape.
- Museo Provincial
Located in an old prison guarded by two canyons, the city museum has rooms dedicated to Aboriginal culture, local nature, weapons (many mambis swords) and decorative arts.
- Parroquia de Santa Catalina de Riccis
This simple but noble church dates back to 1863. In front there is a statue of the local hero, Mayor General Pedro A. Perez, erected in 1928, in front of a tulip fountain and a tiny roundabout.