Isla de la Juventud
Exploring the island (Youth Island)
The Isla de la Juventud (formerly Isla de Pinos) is a Caribbean island, the fifth largest of the Greater Antilles archipelago, with a territorial extension of 2200 km². Together with more than 600 keys and islets, it makes up the Canarreos archipelago, in the southwestern part of Cuba, next to the Gulf of Batabanó, approximately 60 kilometers from the island of Cuba and 142 kilometers from the city of Havana.
Isla de la Juventud is also a special municipality (the island and adjacent keys) of Cuba since 1976, with rank of province and has 2419 km². This condition is given by its scarce dimensions and its reduced population to become a province, at the time when, due to its insular character, it was considered that it should be directly subordinated to the central government. Its main population settlements are Nueva Gerona, the municipal capital, Santa Fe and La Demajagua – formerly Santa Barbara. There are also smaller towns such as Delio Chacón, José Martí, Patria and La Victoria. Previously it was a municipality of the old province of Havana.
Isla de la Juventud was discovered and baptized as La Evangelista by Christopher Columbus on June 13, 1494, during his second voyage to the New World. On March 11, 1596, a naval battle took place between a Spanish fleet, under the command of Bernardino González de Avellaneda and Juan Gutiérrez de Garibay, and what remained of the English expedition against Spanish America that had been commanded by Francis Drake, at that time already deceased by dysentery, resulting in two English ships captured by the Spaniards and causing the definitive flight of the British fleet from the Spanish domains in the Caribbean.
Throughout the years it has been known with different names such as Isla de las Cotorras, Colonia Reina Amalia, Isla de los Piratas and even Isla del Tesoro, while its first inhabitants also knew it as Siguanea, Camaraco and Guanaja.
Main Sights in Isla de la Juventud
- Bibijagua Beach, famous for its black sands.
- International Diving Center and El Colony Hotel.
- Tourist Island of Cayo Largo del Sur and Marina Cayo Largo del Sur.
- Presidio Modelo, where the assailants to the Moncada Barracks served prison.
- Finca El Abra, where the young José Martí was confined, declared a National Monument and converted into a museum.
- Cuevas de Punta del Este, considered the Sistine Chapel of Caribbean rock art, contains a large number of aboriginal pictographs.
- Ciénaga de Lanier National Park, a large natural reserve in the south of the Isla de la Juventud.
- “CEAA” Experimental Center of Applied Arts, founded in 1979 by the ceramist and sculptor Carlos Finales Hernández and an initial group of collaborators such as: Amelia Carballo, Ángel Norniella and Walfrido Morales. This center was originally called TEAA, Taller Experimental de Artes Aplicadas (Experimental Workshop of Applied Arts) and from its beginnings it was oriented to support the development of ceramics in the Isla de la Juventud. Starting from the “CEAA”, ceramic courses were held for children, youth and adults, as well as the creation of the first ceramic magazine in Cuba, which was distributed nationally. The national pottery fair was the first of its kind to be held in Cuba, which in the second edition had international participation. This fair was presided over by Carlos Finales Hernández.
- Cristóbal Labra Baseball Stadium, inaugurated in 1957, has a capacity of 3500 people.