Camaguey is known as the city of “tinajones”, which is a huge ceramic pot used to hold water. It is the largest province on the island due to its extension and is found in the central eastern part of Cuba some 550 kilometers from Havana.
On the north of this province, off main land, it is found the largest amounts of keys and islets that make up the Cuban archipelago with beautiful beaches, now being one of the hottest tourism destination of the island.
You can reach the city of Camaguey by road driving east from Havana through National Highway or you can go from Havana to Camaguey by plane landing in the main international airport of the city which welcomes national and international flights.
It is the third most populated city in the country with a total of 270 000 inhabitants and was one of the first 7 villas founded by the Spanish in the 16th century. Although the Spanish baptized the city as Santa Maria del Puerto Principe in 1514, the name that remained after various settlements was that given to the city of the indigenous population. The territory is mainly flat. Its main economic activities are cattle and sugar.
The city’s architecture is mainly colonial, with a simple style. The typical homes in the province have interior patios. The tinajones are abundant in the patios, which at one time was used to store water and later formed part of the city’s decorations. That is why it is called “the City of Tinajones” which reached to about some 16000 in the whole city in the early 20th century. That is why they say if a visitor drinks water from the tinajon, you will fall in love with the city and never leave.
Its historic center was declared a National Monument and has an asymmetric outline which is similar in many places to a spider web with its winding and narrow streets.
Different from many other Cuban cities, there was not a significant European influence in the architecture of Puerto Principe. The predominant style was the Cuban barroco. Camaguey is characterized for having dozens of churches and parroquial, most of them well preserved and functioning until our days.
A vacationer cannot leave the city without visiting the Agramonte Park, one of the most important plazas with its majestic bronze monument dedicated to one of Cuba’s important independence leaders Ignacio Agramonte. In the surrounding area you can find the Casa de la Trova, decorated with valuable pieces, an important cultural centre where recitals are performed both traditional Cuban music as well as modern rhythms.
The city is also known as the City of Plazas (City of Squares). The Plaza de los Trabajadores is triangular and in the 19th century it was used to hold fairs and circuses. In this plaza you can find the Nuestra Señora de la Merced Cathedral which dates back to 1748 and was destroyed by a fire in 1906. It was refurbished and is an interesting site due to the presence of catacombs. The San Juan de Dios Plaza is highlighted with approximately 200 years of construction, one of the most beautiful squares in the country and declared National Monument. You can find the San Juan de Dios Church and the museum with the same name which was an orphanage in the past. The residents from Camaguey have played an important role in the history of Cuba in its wars for emancipation from Spanish colonialism which is synthesized is the slender and graceful figure of Major Ignacio Agramonte. The birthplace of this symbol of national rebellion is currently a museum.
Some 110 kilometers east of the city of Camaguey you can find the Santa Lucia Beach. It is protected by a coral barrier of some 20 kilometers in length and is one of the three largest beaches in Cuba. It is ideal for snorkelling and water sports and has first class hotels with great comfort like the Gran Club Santa Lucia Hotel with some 400 rooms and 150 bungalows and above all with an endless beach with much to discover. Close by you can find the northern keys of Jardines del Rey; also Sabinal with its lighthouse which is the highest in Cuba with beaches and Paredon Grande.