Santiago de Cuba City
Exploring Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba was founded in 1515, among the first seven villages in Cuba, it is one of the most picturesque cities in the country.
Due to its exceptional geographical conditions, it was the first capital of Cuba until 1556, when San Cristóbal de La Habana is designated as the capital. Santiago de Cuba is an exceptional city, which combines multiple values and attractions that allow visitors to come into contact with the idiosyncrasy of its people, culture and history of the place, while enjoying the exotic nature. It is the only Hero City of Cuba, a title granted by the contribution of its people to the libertarian exploits of Cubans.
Founded in the second decade of the sixteenth century on the banks of the Paradas River, then moved to its current seat, the city of Santiago de Cuba eventually became the second of Cuba and the first of its eastern portion.
With the city council almost since its foundation, the title of ”city” was received in 1522, the year in which the Cathedral was erected, the concession of such title at the beginning of the colonization, would be made to a reduced nucleus of population whose houses, of guano roof, were not – by their condition and construction – very far from the most current peasant constructions, with guano roof and walls of adobe and cujes.
But to this humble germ of city came, coming from Baracoa, men like Hernan Cortés, Bartolome de las Casas, Anton de Alaminos, Bernal Diaz and others who, with time, would join their names to the conquest of an entire continent. Heading the contingent of founders was the advanced Diego Velázquez, who in a decade of government did not lay the foundations of the future city.
- Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro
- Moncada Museum Santiago de Cuba
- Cementerio Santa Ifigenia
- Cuartel Moncada
- Museo de Ambiente Histórico Cubano
- Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
- Museo de la Lucha Clandestina
- Museo Municipal Emilio Bacardí Moreau
- Jardín de los Helechos
- Parque Alameda
- Cuartel Moncada
Santiago de Cuba famous Moncada Barracks, a crenelated art-deco building completed in 1938, is now synonymous with one of history’s greatest failed putsches. Moncada earned immortality on July 26, 1953, when more than 100 revolutionaries led by then little-known Fidel Castro stormed Batista’s troops at what was then Cuba’s second-most important military garrison.
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
Santiago de Cuba most important church is stunning both inside and out. There has been a cathedral on this site since the city’s inception in the 1520s, though a series of pirate raids, earthquakes and dodgy architects put paid to at least three previous incarnations. The present cathedral, characterized by its two neoclassical towers, was completed in 1922; the remains of first colonial governor, Diego Velázquez, are still buried underneath.
The church was restored both inside and out for Santiago’s quincentennial in 2015. Expect intricate ceiling frescoes, hand-carved choir stalls and a polished altar honoring the venerated Virgen de la Caridad.
Jardín de los Helechos
This peaceful garden is a lush haven of 350 types of ferns and 90 types of orchids. It’s the erstwhile private collection of santiaguero Manuel Caluff, donated in 1984 to the Academia de Ciencias de Cuba (Cuban Academy of Science), which continues to keep the 3000-sq-meter garden in psychedelic bloom. The center of the garden has an inviting dense copse-cum-sanctuary dotted with benches.
For the orchids, the best time is November to January. Bus 5 (20 centavos) from Plaza de Marte in central Santiago passes this way, or you can hire a taxi. It’s 2km from downtown Santiago de Cuba on the road to El Caney.