The island of Cuba brings together aboriginal, colonial European and African cultures. It therefore has a very important heritage, and naturally abounds in magnificent cultural sites. Difficult to appreciate everything during a short stay! So, if you don’t plan to stay in Cuba for too long, here are five must-see sites on the island.
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This agglomeration of 3.7 million inhabitants is not only the capital of Cuba, but also the largest city in the Caribbean.
It is the economic centre of the country and the seat of the Cuban government, but the focus will be on its historical heritage.
To start your trip to Cuba, Havana is an essential stopover that will allow you to take the pulse of the island.
The district “La Habana Vieja” (Old Havana) is the historical center.
It has been preserved and restored over the last few years and is even classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “interesting mix of Baroque and Neoclassical monuments”.
It is a maze of narrow streets, with courtyards and admirable wrought-iron gates.
Densely populated, it contains the majority of monuments, churches and museums.
The fine arts and resistance museums are particularly complete and interesting.
Historic Center of Havana: La Habana Vieja
Outside of this district, the Malecon, the promenade along the coast, the cigar factories and the architecture in general, which has resisted modernism and remained authentic, are particularly noteworthy.
The Valley of Los Ingenios
Also known as the “Valley of the Sugar Cane” because of the sugar cane plantations, this valley is located east of Trinidad City.
Visitable by train, it will give you the opportunity to admire a multitude of ruins and typical houses from the colonial period, as well as the fields where more than 11,000 slaves worked.
The Castle of San Pedro de la Roca
Also known as Castillo del Morro, this fortress was built from 1637 onwards by Juan Bautista Antonelli to defend the city of the same name against pirate attacks.
Overlooking the coast of Santiago de Cuba, the building impresses by the way it is installed on the steep slopes of the coastline.
It is also cited as the best preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.
This unique place is one of a kind and a cultural site that cannot be ignored in Cuba.
It is a national monument, but also a park and an open-air museum. It pays homage to the Cuban revolution, in particular to the battle of December 1958, during which Che Guevara derailed an armoured train.
The train’s carriages have been restored and integrated into the museum, along with other equipment from that period. The site also has an obelisk in memory of Che and the revolutionaries.
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The city of Camagüey
Like Havana, Camagüey has an exceptional historical centre.
Indeed, the city having been the target of numerous pirate attacks over the centuries, it was shaped and rebuilt over long periods of time.
The architecture of its buildings thus reflects the different styles, as well as the evolution of artisanal construction techniques.
The layout, which is very particular, consists of an interweaving of narrow streets, winding alleys, small squares and irregular blocks of houses.