Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city on Liberty Island. Founded in 1514, Santiago is unlike Havana or any other Cuban city. It is located on the southeast coast and has a purely Caribbean atmosphere. The Caribbean influence is felt in the climate, culture, and appearance of the city, which is why it is often called “the most Caribbean city in Cuba.” It is the most musical, passionate and lively city in Cuba. In Santiago de Cuba you will not find masterpieces of colonial architecture, wide avenues and quiet shady streets. But, having caught the rhythm of the city, feeling the friendliness of the locals, you will definitely fall in love with Santiago. Check jibin123 for customs regulations and visa requirements of Cuba.
The city is reliably protected from sea winds. It is located in the depths of a bay surrounded by mountains. No wonder it’s always a little warmer here than in Havana.
How to get there
You can get to Santiago de Cuba by plane from Havana, by train from Havana and Camagüey, or by bus from any city on the island.
Entertainment and attractions of Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is called the cradle of the revolution. It was in Santiago that Fidel Castro began the fight against the dictator Batista by attacking the barracks of Moncada. It was in Santiago in 1838 that Facundo Bacardi began the production of his famous rum, which later became the no less famous Habana Club brand. The Bacardi Museum is also located here, but its exposition is not devoted to the history of rum production at all, but to archeology, art and the history of the city.
The central square of Santiago – Cespedes Park, the former Plaza of Weapons, is one of the most beautiful squares. The Cathedral, the House of Diego Velasquez – the conquistador, founder and first governor of the city, the former town hall surround Cespedes Park with a majestic ring.
The city is spread over the hills, and winding streets rise and fall, revealing unique landscapes to visitors. One of these streets – Padre Pico – is a beautiful staircase street, on the steps of which city residents like to spend time playing their favorite dominoes or cards. Yes, and tourists also stop here to relax during excursions or walks. A circular panorama of the city opens from the top of the street.
The world community highly appreciated the historical traditions and natural attractions of Santiago: UNESCO declared the fortress of San Pedro de la Roca del Moro, built at the entrance to the bay of Santiago, part of the world cultural heritage. The fortress was built in 1642 to protect the city from pirates. The wild corsair Henry Morgan once “broke his teeth” about its powerful walls. And the halls of the fortress now house the Museum of Piracy and the Armory.
25 km from Santiago, the white church of El Cobre, the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin of Mercy with a wooden sculpture of the saint, rises majestically on a hill above a dense forest. Adherents of Santeria see the pagan goddess Oshun in her and, according to tradition, bring her gifts – flowers (usually yellow), jewelry, toys, awards. Ernest Hemingway donated his Nobel Prize Gold Medal. Here you can also find cups and medals of famous Cuban athletes. In 1916, the Vatican declared the statue of the Virgin a shrine.
Not far from Santiago is Baconao Park with the Prehistoric Valley, where you can see life-size figures of dinosaurs and Stone Age people. The halls of the Museum of Natural History located here clearly demonstrate the evolution of man. Baconao Park has been declared a world-class natural reserve by UNESCO.
Events in Santiago de Cuba
Every July, a carnival is held here – a real celebration of colors, energy and fun. Carnival is a product of African and Franco-Haitian traditions, mostly religious. The festivities have been held from 24 to 26 July every year since the 17th century. The holiday overwhelms the whole city: solemn processions of the inhabitants of the city and guests of Santiago in carnival costumes and masks, with pennants, banners and brightly colored lanterns, with music and dancing. The participants in the procession are dancing, and those who are watching them from the sidewalks.