Santiago de Cuba

espana-flag

Santiago de Cuba

santiago de cuba map

Distances

Santiago-Holguin: 146km
Santiago-Havana: 881km
Santiago-Baracoa: 234km
Santiago-Guantanamo: 166km
Santiago-El Cobre: 20km

Santiago de Cuba

Is known as the most Caribbean city in Cuba. Province and capital with the same name, where history, culture and tradition get together for a special stamp of hospitality of its inhabitants. Santiago de Cuba borders Holguin to the north, west of Granma province, east of Guantanamo and south with the Caribbean Sea. It is the second most populated city on the island with approximately 1 022 105 inhabitants. Santiago de Cuba is surrounded by the Sierra Maestra Mountains, highest on the island and the largest river in Cuba. Santiago de Cuba is full of hilly streets.

sierra maestra cuba

There are abundant rivers in the area, among them the Cauto River which is the longest in the country. Close to Baconao is the Aquarium a site to recreate and take a look at its shark collection as well as a giant size tank with different marine species and its greatest attraction: dolphins.

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.

musicos santiago de cuba

Santiago Carnivals

santiago de cuba carnivals

Santiago is also famous for its carnivals and internationally recognized Caribbean Festival. The city is characterized by the development of the Afro-Cuban traditions which leaves its prints both in music and popular festivals. The Santiago Carnavals has its origins in the 18th century and it’s the most colorful and vigorous of the whole country. The comparsas, the musical theme, the disguises and of course the Conga fill the streets and city’s plazas.

Cespedes Park

central park Cespedes of Santiago de Cuba

On one of the Cespedes Park sides you can find the Municipal Palace constructed in the second half of the 20th century, based on a project in 1738 and its executors was inspired to achieve what it currently holds and at the end of the year it is the site of the Flag Festival. On the other side, the Municipal Culture House better known as the San Carlos Club constructed in 1910 with its marble, ironworks and columns.

Cobre Sanctuary

cobre-sanctuary santiago de cuba

Religion is part of life of the people of Santiago. With its Virgin of Charity, patron saint of Cuba that guards the airs of the mountains, and the Cobre Sanctuary located in the northeastern part of Santiago, basilica which was built in 1927, which according to tradition was found by three miners over the waters of the Bay of Nipe.

 

Things to do in Santiago de Cuba

Attractions

  • ✓ El Saltón
  • ✓ Baonao Park
  • ✓ Aquarium Baconao
  • ✓ San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle
  • ✓ Santa Ifigenia Cemetery
  • ✓ La Gran Piedra (The Big Rock)
  • ✓ Jardin Ave del Paraiso
  • ✓ Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption
  • ✓ Siboney Beach

Attractions

  • ✓ Casa de La Trova
  • ✓ Casa de las Tradiciones
  • ✓ Hotel Casa Granda Terrace Bar
  • ✓ Patio de Artex
  • ✓ Patio de Los Dos Abuelos
  • ✓ Santiago Cafe Nightclub
  • ✓ Club 300
  • ✓ La Maison
  • ✓ Cabaret Tropicana
  • ✓ Discoteca La Iris

Attractions

  • ✓ Museo del Carnaval
  • ✓ Museo de la Lucha Clandestina
  • ✓ The image museum
  • ✓ Emilio Bacardi Moreau museum
  • ✓ Diego Velazquez museum
  • ✓ Galeria Rene Valdes
  • ✓ Memorial Vilma Espin Guillois
  • ✓ Moncada Barracks
  • ✓ Revolution Plaza (Plaza De La Revolucion)

One day tour

  • Baracoa: First Villa
  • Gran Piedra and Baconao Park
  • Special Baconao and the Pre-historical Stone Valley
  • Special Santiago
  • El Cobre Sanctuary
  • Baconao Lagoon