travels

Interesting Places in Cuba

Havana

The capital city of Cuba has more than 2 million inhabitants. From the beginning of its existence, the city developed as a very important trading centre with an emphasis on the tobacco industry and numerous sugar refinement centers. At the end of the 60s of the last century, Havana was conquered by the insurgent troops of Fidel Castro which defeated the pro-American regime of Batista. International isolation and an inefficient centrally- planned economy resulted in the lower importance of the city and the country. Havana lost its former reputation of an entertainment city. Many private houses were confiscated by the country and many districts were rebuilt in a style of socrealism. The policy of a gradual opening towards the world resulted in the new inflow of tourists to the city in the 60s. It is very interesting that a lot of buildings in the city were made of white limestone originating from corallines. Among the oldest buildings there are Havana fortresses. The most important of them are: Castillo del Moro which guards the harbor, La Punta and La Cabańa. While visiting the city, it is good to start with Habana Sieja and its main museums and restored and stylish colonial buildings. On the other side of the city, there is Vedado, a postmodernist centre of the city from the 50s. Many impressive postcolonial buildings were turned into public utility buildings, ministries and museums. A lively Malecón, which runs along the sea, is a street of entertainment in Havana. It is most bustling during the carnival. Numerous discos and restaurants may be also found in tourist districts.

Santiago De Cuba

The city Santiago de Cuba is a monument of the Spanish period and one of the oldest settlements in the island. It has a Caribbean atmosphere which can be mostly seen on the streets. Santiago has 350,000 inhabitants and is the second big city in the island. There are many shipyards here and the chemical industry, the production of coffee and sugar develop very fast. Santiago, situated in the northeast of Cuba, was founded in 1524 when the seat of the government was moved here. In the neighborhood, people looked unsuccessfully for gold. The importance of Santiago increased when some copper deposits were found in the neighborhood. The city played a very important role during the liberation movement. According to the Cuban tradition, this city is a cradle of revolution. In 1959, with an attack on the Moncad's caserns, the revolution led by Castro began. During sightseeing, it is worth visiting the Old Town, Cespedes Park, the town hall and the cathedral.

Trinidad

A city generally called “the jewel of Cuba”. To preserve its unique atmosphere, the Cuban government decided to include this city, which has a population of 50,000, in conservatory protection. There is a prohibition to erect any skyscrapers in Trinidad and huge amounts of money are spent for renovations of monumental houses. A sudden stop of its development in the 18th and 19th century turned out to be very advantageous. A change in the communication routes resulted in a lesser importance of the city, but due to this fact the city wasn’t destroyed. In 1950, the communication connections with the centre of the island were restored. The characteristic feature of Trinidad is, that in comparison with the majority of Cuban cities, it doesn’t lie direct on the coast. It was built in the hinterland to protect the city from pirates’ attacks. The harbor in the neighborhood of Trinidad is called Casida. Trinidad owed its prosperity at the turn of the 18th and 19th century to the sugar cane. At the beginning of the 19th century, the number of plants producing sugar amounted to 50 and the trade of slaves was also very prosperous for the city. Trinidad also tried to compete with Havana for some time. The city lost its prosperity when in the first half of the 19th century the trade of slaves was abolished. The final blow for the city was the independence struggle which destroyed the whole economic system. Nevertheless, it was not an obstacle for this city to become a very popular place among tourists visiting Cuba.

Guama

A reconstructed village of the indigenous inhabitants of Cuba- Indian people, is one of the biggest attractions here. Indian huts made of palm leaves, sculptures with the first inhabitants of Cuba and fisherman’s, gatherers’ and hunters’ life scenes have been reconstructed here.

Matanzas

It is a city and a harbor in Cuba, located on the Florida Straits, and an administrative centre of the province. It is a centre of chemical industry, as well as a tourist centre and a seaside resort.

Holguin

The city is located about 700 kilometers east of Havana and is known among others for its plant producing musical organs and for famous stairs with 460 steps.