Santiago de Cuba is called the “Hero City of the Republic of Cuba” in recognition to the contribution of the city to the wars of liberation. Like in no other part of Cuba, Santiago de Cuba is full of rich mixtures of races and cultures. Music is an essential component of the spirit of the people from Santiago. This city has been the birthplace of important musicians and musical genres with international fame in the field: Santiago is recognized for its conga, son, bolero and the trova movement with its most distinguished founder Jose Pepe Sanchez.
Legendary villa and the country’s first capital city, Santiago was founded in 1515 by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, which continues to conserve its exuberant vegetation and its brave sea ploughed before pirates, whose presence drove Spain to construct the San Pedro de la Roca Castle, military fortress that guarded the beautiful bay and which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. This enclave has turned into a tourism attraction including its Pirates Museum. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the entrance of the bay.
Of the first settlements of 17th century left are only vestiges. Until the 18th century, Santiago de Cuba was looted, set fire to, exposed to nature’s weather like earthquakes and hurricanes. This is how a new constructive system was born, where the Moslem and Andalucia style took over with beautiful balconies, windows, interior patios, gorgeous facades which make Santiago stand out with its beauty. In the later years, other styles were incorporated into the city like: neoclassic, baroque, eclectic, all represented in its buildings. We cannot forget its curved streets which abruptly interrupts and open ways to alleyways, stairways or an intersection of a corner breaking urban symmetric of all times.
Of its streets you might want to visit: Heredia Street, also known as Cathedral Street, six blocks full of domestic and public architecture, some of them turned into museums; Aguilera Street, the longest in Santiago, born at the port and ending at the Siboney road; Enramadas the most popular and full of markets and all types of services; Padre Pico street which is a stairway with over one century of existence and according to what they say in Santiago “if you do not visit Padre Pico, you have not seen Santiago”.
The city of Santiago de Cuba has a rich architectural-historic-cultural estate. At Cespedes Park is at the heart of Santiago beats, a cozy park surrounded by old buildings and monuments like the Santa Basilica Metropolitan Cathedral, created in 1522 and re built several times until 1922. The headquarters of the Archdiocese Museum and among its attributes it conserves the Ecce Homo, pictorial piece considered the oldest on the island. As a witness to the origins of the city, next to the park you can find a two story building which belonged to Governor Diego Velazquez and considered the oldest house in America, and which is currently a museum.
Other historic and cultural exponents of the city are the Birthplace of Heredia now a National Monuments which dates back to the 18th century; the Moncada Garrison which was attacked by 134 combatants led by Fidel Castro in 1953 in an attempt to oust dictator Fulgencio Batista; the Vivac, former prison in Santiago which currently hold the Historic Archives of the province; the Antonio Maceo Revolution Plaza (Square) and it Holographic Museum; the Trova House; Santa Ifigenia Cemetery which holds the remains of Cuba´s National Hero Jose Marti; the Emilio Bacardi Museum, the first public museum dating back to 1899; the Theater and Concert Halls, the Trova House, Rum Museum and many more.
Santiago de Cuba’s night life is very active, with a variety of bars, night clubs, cabarets like Tropicana of Santiago.