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So If you don’t have much time in Santiago de Cuba, here’s what you shouldn’t miss:

1. Eat in a Paladar

One of the best things to do in Santiago de Cuba is probably no better than tasting the best food and drink in the city!

You certainly don’t need to go crazy to make the most of what is on offer, with numerous roadside stands and paladar family restaurants offering exquisite meals at great prices.

Probably the charm of the city’s simple cuisine lies in the fact that almost everything you eat will have been produced locally, with vegetables having travelled just a few kilometres from a housing estate on the edge of town to your plate. 

2. Have a Mojito at Artex

And there’s rum! Although the Bacardi factory no longer exists, there are still plenty of opportunities in Santiago de Cuba to get your hands on a mojito or a daiquiri.

3. Local Handicrafts

You will never find mass-produced souvenirs in Santiago (or really anywhere in Cuba) by doing Shopping in Santiago de Cuba is another of the best things to do

The small independent stalls you’ll find in the old Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca – universally known as El Morro – are a good place to start.

The vendors there offer a wide range of wooden and woven handicrafts, from dominoes to sun hats.

4. Eating Cuban Ice Cream

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5. Sunset on a rough top

The magnificent views of Santiago de Cuba tend to go hand in hand with a cocktail in a hotel bar, but we say that it’s not a bad way to spend a sunset, so we’ve added the views to our list of things to do in Santiago de Cuba.

At the top of the imposing Melia Santiago de Cuba Hotel, you’ll find a 360-degree view of the city – ancient and modern – with the magnificent mountains as a backdrop, day and night. The roof patio on the fifth floor of the Casa Granda Hotel in Plaza Cespedes is another interesting option. It can be very busy, so make sure you take a seat when you can!

6. See a magic trick from el Benny

7. Taste a local pizza

8. Having coffee at Isabellica

9. Walking in Tivoli and Padre Pico

10. See a concert at La Trova

What to see in Santiago de Cuba

If you don’t have much time to visit the city, here is a selection of places to visit in the center of Santiago

Parque Cespedes

Surrounded by colonial architecture, this square is a permanent spectacle, day and night.

Here you will find all the diversity and beauty of Cuban culture coming together to chat, play music or just watch the world go by.

Habits have now evolved and there is less talk than before because of the arrival of the wi-fi signal.

In the centre of the park is a large statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, whose Grito de Yara declared Cuba’s independence from Spain in 1868 and the beginning of the Ten Years War.

In Cespedes Park we also find the finest collection of Jineteros.
(hustlers) from Santiago. Each of them is specialized in a particular field and they watch the tourists to ask them for soap, money, clothes, change of clothes, etc…

Although the square is a must in Santiago, it is difficult to sit quietly there.
Do not miss the folklore groups that pass by on Sunday morning, as well as the Santiago orchestra that comes to play there on Saturday or Sunday evening around 7pm.

Parc Cespedes Hurricane Sandy uprooted most of the trees in the park in 2012; the inhabitants here are waiting patiently for the vegetation to grow back.


Buildings in Place Cespedes

The Parque Céspedes is dominated by its cathedral with two towers.

A basilica was built here in 1528, but what you see was rebuilt in the early 19th century after a series of earthquakes and fires.

Many of the city’s most venerable buildings stand in the square, many of which were repaired and renovated in 2013-14, in part to mark the 55th anniversary of the Revolution.

The Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
Although it was first built on this site in 1523, the present building dates mainly from 1922.

The church was restored inside and out for the fifteenth anniversary of Santiago in 2015.

Expect to see intricate ceiling frescoes, hand-carved choir stalls and a polished altar in honor of the venerated Virgen de la Caridad.

A two-room museum near the entrance displays objects relating to the history of the Catholic Church in Cuba.

The remains of the first colonial governor, Diego Velázquez, are believed to be buried underneath.


The City Hall

Just in front of the cathedral stands a splendid white building with blue doors: it is the Town Hall.

The Ayuntamiento, in neoclassical style, was erected in the 1950s based on a drawing from 1783 and was the seat of Hernán Cortés’ Town Hall.

Fidel Castro appeared on the balcony of the present building on the night of 2 January 1959, trumpeting the triumph of the Revolution.

La Casa Granda

The elegant Casa Granda Hotel is also located in the square.

The interior, restored in the mid-1990s, has an air of faded grandeur and it is pleasant to have a drink on the roof terrace at sunset.

The hotel used to be a high society place where the Cuban elite would gather on the roof terrace to sip rum, dance and smoke cigars.

Famous guests included many movie stars, singers and sports champions, including baseball legend Babe Ruth.

However, in the 1950s, the place became sinister and teeming with American spies and Cuban rebels.

Enjoying a drink on the roof terrace at sunset is still enjoyable, while a drink, snack or lunch at the ground floor café is a good way to look out over the square without being disturbed.

Casa de Diego Velázquez

This house, built between 1516 and 1530, is considered the oldest house in Cuba.

Restored at the end of the 1960s, the Andalusian-style façade with fine wooden lattice windows was inaugurated as a museum in 1970.

It is one of the most visited places in Santiago.

In the 16th century it was the official residence of the first governor of the island, and founder of Santiago: Diego Velázquez.

It is a massive stone structure with Moorish-style balconies, glorious cedar ceilings (alfarjes), floor-to-ceiling shutters and two beautiful courtyards,. ceramics and antiques.

Inside you will find period beds, desks, chests and other furniture, as well as a patio with its well and container, the “tinajón”, which is used to collect rain.

On the first floor there is a gold foundry.

An adjacent house is filled with antiques designed to convey the French and English decorative message and architectural influences – such as the radial stained glass window above the courtyard doors – at the end of the 19th century.

Peñas (musical performances) are sometimes held here, and musicians can often be heard practicing in the courtyards.

  • Entrance: 2 Cuc
  • Telephone: 22 65 2 6 52
  • Hours: 9am-5pm Monday to Sunday
  • Guides: multilingual tour
  • Camera fees

Calle Heredia

The music never stops on Heredia Street.

It is THE nerve center of art and music in Santiago:

Here you can see some of the best musicians in Cuba, and in the world.

Buildings in Heredia Street:

  • Casa de la Trova
  • Artex Patio
  • Casa de la Cultura
  • La Trovita
  • Carnival Museum
  • Casa del Queso
  • Casa Granda

Balcón de Velázquez

This terrace is all that remains of a fort and was once used by the Spaniards to monitor ship traffic.

This balcony offers a magnificent view of the port and the tiled roofs of the Tivoli district.

Ideal place to take pictures at sunset.

Small concerts and other events are often held here, especially on weekend evenings.

  • Price: Free Admission
  • Photo Permit: 1 Cuc
  • Video License: 5 Cuc
  • Hours: 9H00-21H00 from Tuesday to Sunday


Tivoli & Calle Padre Pico

This old French quarter was once colonized by rich families fleeing the slave revolution in Haiti in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Its inhabitants gather on its shady edges to chat or play dominoes.


Calle Padre Pico

In the heart of the Tivoli district, Calle Padre Pico has one of the most famous staircases in the city of Santiago de Cuba.

Climbing the stone steps of this street will reward you with one of the most beautiful views of the city.

For the anecdote

When Emilio Bacardí was mayor, he had the street and its steps renovated and baptized them with the name of Bernardo del Pico, a priest who had helped the poor.

Fidel Castro used their strategic location to fire on Batista’s forces during the Revolution.

Plaza de Dolores

This pleasant shady square is surrounded by cafés and open-air restaurants.
Formerly an old market square, it takes its name from the Nuestra Señora de los Dolores church that dominates it, which has been renovated and turned into a concert hall.

It is one of the busiest areas in the historic centre.
In the centre, on a high pedestal of Carrara marble, stands a statue of the entire body of independence fighter Francisco Vicente Aguilera, a native of the nearby town of Bayamo.


Enramada Street

The emblematic Enramada street is a shopkeeper who has become a pedestrian in recent years.

It crosses the historic centre, joining the high area of Plaza de Marte with Paseo Alameda, on the seafront.

Here you can enjoy the timeless splendour of the city with its hotels, cinemas, department stores and restaurants.

Bordered by a pleasant shade, the street is very busy during the day by the Santiagueros who stroll through its shops and restaurants.

Walking up and down the street is a spectacle in its own right.
Take the time to stroll around, taste an ice cream, watch a game of dominoes, have a coffee in Marylin, or a local pizza, served ecologically on a piece of recycled cardboard.

Buying souvenirs

To make your stroll more pleasant, make a detour to the pedestrian street “Callejon del Carmen”, a three-block area between Felix Peña and Pío Rosado where you will find craft and souvenir stands.


Plaza de Marte

Guarding the entrance to the casco histórico, this 5000m2 square is one of the Santiagueros’ favourites and the most authentic in the city.

If you want to capture the real life of Santiago, meet on weekends from 18h there is often a fair (feria) and local entertainment, children’s rides, candy vendors and others.

It has a public wi-fi signal.

The solemn column topped with a Phrygian hat symbolizes freedom.
It’s also a great place to take natural pictures of life scenes.
Learn more about it

The Plaza de Marte, once served as a macabre parade ground for the Spaniards in the 19th century, where prisoners were publicly executed for revolutionary activities.

Like most city squares, most of the trees here were uprooted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Replanting has begun, but it will take some time before the park regains its cool shade.


Malecón and Parque Alameda

The new malecón is a pleasant place to walk or sit by the water.

This district was elegantly renovated and redeveloped in 2015 by the Chinese to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the city’s foundation.

You can also admire the old clock tower, the aduana (customs) and the cigar factory.

You will also find a playground, shaded areas and public wi-fi.
It is an ideal place to walk around.

To get there you just have to go straight down the Enramada street that goes from the Plaza de Marte to the sea.

Recommendation of the chief
Don’t hesitate to drink a draft beer or enjoy a good meal at the Cerverceria Puerto del rey.

Cuartel Moncada

If you are interested in everything revolutionary, it is imperative to visit the Cuartel de Moncada, because that is where the whole Cuban revolution began.

On July 26, 1953, Castro and 100 men attempted to storm this former army barracks.

It is one of the country’s most complete museums of revolutionary history.


To better understand and feel the history of this place, take a local guide available at the entrance of the museum…

  • Address: Av. General Portuondo (Trinidad) y Av. Moncada, Reparto Sueño
  • Tel: 22 66 11 57
  • Price: 2 Cuc
  • Hours: 9am-8pm Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-1pm on Sunday

To know more about it

The attack took place on July 26, 1953.

It was carnival time in Santiago; the streets were full of revellers and Castro had hoped that security would be relaxed.

Unfortunately, his hopes were dashed and the rebels were either killed or captured.

Castro, who fled to the mountains, was eventually captured, tried and imprisoned on Isla la Juventud, off the southern coast of western Cuba.
Although unsuccessful, this attack symbolizes the beginnings of Castro’s revolution.

He wrote his famous speech “La historia me absolverá” (“History will absolve me”), which was smuggled out of prison, printed and distributed throughout the island.

Although luck was not on his side in 1953, it was certainly on his side in 1955, when Batista granted freedom to many political prisoners.

Castro left for the United States, where he began to solicit support for his 26th July Movement (named after the unfortunate attack on the barracks) to rid Cuba of Batista’s regime.

From there, he took his cause to Mexico.
In 1956, barely a year after his release from prison, Castro made his historic voyage from Mexico to Cuba aboard the Granma.

The barracks were converted into a school called Ciudad Escolar 26 de Julio, and in 1967 a museum was set up near Gate 3, where the main attack took place.

As Batista’s soldiers had cemented the original bullet holes from the attack, Castro’s government rebuilt them (this time unarmed) years later as a poignant reminder.

The museum (one of the best in Cuba) contains a model of the barracks, as well as interesting and sometimes macabre artifacts, diagrams and models of the attack, its planning and consequences.

Perhaps the most moving, perhaps, are the photographs of the 61 people who fell at the end of the attack.

The first barracks on this site was built by the Spanish in 1859, and is actually named after Guillermón Moncada, a fighter in the War of Independence who was held prisoner here in 1874.


Santiago Museums

Casa Natal de José María Heredia

This Spanish colonial house is the birthplace of the poet José María Heredia, one of the first Cuban poets to defend national independence.
Like many defenders of Cuban independence, Heredia was forced into exile and died in Mexico in 1839 at the age of 36.

The house displays period objects, furniture and some of the poet’s works and possessions.

Poetry workshops are held occasionally in the courtyard.

  • Address: Calle Heredia
  • Price: 1 Cuc
  • Hours: 9am – 5pm Tuesday to Saturday, 9am – 1pm Sunday

Museo Provincial Bacardí Moreau.

A must-see in Santiago de Cuba.
Founded in 1899, the museum houses a vast collection of art and curiosities gathered by the Bacardi family.

Emilio Bacardí Moreau, was the former mayor of Santiago whose family of rum makers took refuge in Puerto Rico after the Revolution.

On the first floor, colonial artefacts are on display, antique weapons and brutal remains of the slave trade are especially thought-provoking.


Although the museum is called Bacardí, it is not the Rum Museum of Santiago.

  • Address: Calle Pío Rosado (Carnicería) y Calle Aguilera
  • Tel : 22 62 84 02
  • Price: 2 Cuc
  • Timetable :13h – 16h30 Monday, 09h – 16h30 Tuesday – Saturday, 9h – 12h30 Sunday

Carnival Museum

This cultural institution was created in 1983 with the aim of showing the traditions and memories of the carnivals that are celebrated every year in July in the city.

The evolution of this event is shown here through photographic sequences with explanatory texts, chronologies, objects and musical instruments used for its realization.

One can admire beautiful costumes and cabezudos (big-headed carnival figures) as well as faded photographs illustrating the history of the carnival.

In the inner courtyard, you can attend Afro-Cuban music and dance sessions every day (except Saturdays) at 4 pm.

  • Tel: 22 62 69 55
  • Address: Heredia No. 303
  • Price : 1 Cuc – 5 Cuc photo permit
  • Hours: 09h – 17h

Museum of Clandestine Wrestling

Every Cuban city, regardless of its size, has a museum dedicated to the Revolution.

This being said, this Museo de la Lucha Clandestina is one of the best in the country, being housed in a beautifully restored colonial mansion, with magnificent views of the Bay of Santiago.

Dedicated to the heroes of the July 26th Movement, you will get a complete overview of the struggle.

The museum was actually a former police station attacked by M-26-7 militants on 30 November 1956, to distract attention from the arrival of the late yacht Granma, carrying Fidel Castro and 81 other people.

  • Adress : Calle General Jesús Rabí 1
  • Tel: 22 62 46 89
  • Price: 1 Cuc
  • Opening hours: 09h – 17h Tuesday – Saturday, 9h – 12h Sunday


Maqueta de la Ciudad

Cuba is obsessed with model cities and Santiago, with this incredibly detailed model, is no exception.

Interesting historical and architectural information is presented on illustrated wall panels and you can climb up a mezzanine gallery to get a real overview.

Address: Mariano Corona no. 704

Price: 1 Cuc

Timetable: 9am-5pm Monday – Saturday

Museo de la Imagen

A short but fascinating journey through the history of Cuban photography, from Kodak to Korda, with small CIA spy cameras and many old and contemporary photos.

The museum also houses a library of rare films and documentaries.

  • Tel: 22 64 22 34
  • Address: Calle 8 No 106
  • Price: Cuc
  • Hours : 9h 17h, Monday to Friday , 14h-17h Saturday to Sunday

Plaza de la Revolución

Almost every town on the island has a Revolution Square.

This one is presided over by two monumental sets of prestigious local artists: the equestrian statue of Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo, a remarkable Cuban independentist of all contests against the Spanish colonial regime, work of the sculptor Alberto Lezcay and, accompanying the hero, 23 enormous steel machetes, work of the plastic artist Guarionex Ferrer.

Beneath the giant mound is a small holographic museum about the life and work of the so-called Bronze Titan.

Other noteworthy buildings lining the square include the Teatro José María Heredia and the National Bus Station.

Loma de San Juan

It was here that the last battle of the Spanish-Cuban-American War took place, with the bloodiest actions recorded in June and July 1898.

Today it is a park, in the Reparto San Juan neighborhood, covered by the monuments left by the American and Cuban military, dedicated to the battle.

It is a beautiful passive place, with structures for small children in the Parque de Diversiones – identifiable by their big wheel – at the foot of the hill.

To know more about it

There are several sculptures in the park: one depicts the American soldier, in full uniform and with period weapons, and another depicts the Mambi soldier.

There is also a monument dedicated to the courage and honor of the Spanish soldier.

The future American president Teddy Roosevelt forged his reputation on this small hill where, flanked by immortal rugged cavalrymen, he would have led a fearless cavalry charge against the Spaniards to seal a famous American victory.

In reality, it is doubtful that Roosevelt even rode his horse to Santiago, when the supposedly helpless Spanish garrison – ten times more numerous – managed to hold more than 6,000 American soldiers for 24 hours.
Guns, trenches and numerous American monuments, including a bronze cavalryman, enhance this classroom garden, while the only recognition of a Cuban presence is the rather discreet monument of the unknown soldier Mambí.

Avenida Garzón

If you want to discover the real Santiago, head towards Avenida Victoria de Garzón. It is one of the main streets of the city.
There are more activities and stalls on weekends, but it is also worth a visit during the week.

Recommendations: Try street food such as roast suckling pig, ice cream or pizza.

Cementerio Santa Ifigenia

Created in 1868 to house the victims of the War of Independence and a simultaneous epidemic of yellow fever, Santa Ifigenia counts among its more than 8,000 tombs many great historical figures, including the mausoleum of José Martí and the final resting place of Fidel Castro.

Once separated by colour and social class, the cemetery has both massive mausoleums and unpretentious tombs.

Neighbouring that of José Marti, the tomb that attracts the most visitors today is that of Fidel Castro Ruz (1926-2016),
Nestled peacefully at the western end of the city, the best way to get there is a bici-taxi from Alameda Avenue, or a regular taxi. Horse carts also run along the avenue to the cemetery for 1 Cuban peso MN.

Good to Know

Although the entrance is technically free, you can only enter with a guide, which you have to pay for.

You will also have to pay a high photo fee, whether you take pictures or videos.

Address: Av. Crombet, Reparto Santa Ifigenia

Tel: 22 63 27 23

Hours: 8am-6pm

Price : Free (but only with a guide) | guide, 1 Cuc

Photo permit: $10 Cuc

To know more about it

The necropolis was inaugurated in February 1868 and was declared a National Monument on May 19, 1979, the date that coincided with the death of the national hero José Martí.

It has an area of about 9.5 hectares and some 10,000 tombs.

The remains of many patriots and artistic personalities are buried here.
In addition to its spiritual values, the cemetery has the artistic value of funerary constructions with stylistic tendencies marked by the period of construction, showing a wide range of styles that blend into the whole cemetery, which is considered an open-air museum.

The Rebels of the Attack on the Moncada Barracks the graves of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and the 38 rebels who died in the attack on the Moncada barracks, in a special wall right at the entrance to the cemetery.

The Tomb of José Marti (1853-1895)

It is worth waiting for the changing of the guard every half hour, accompanied by martial music.

Many visitors come to pay homage to the quasi-religious mausoleum of the national hero José Martí (1853-95).

Erected in 1951 during the Batista era, the imposing hexagonal structure is positioned in such a way that Martí’s wooden coffin (solemnly draped with a Cuban flag) receives daily rays of sunlight.

This is in response to a remark made by Martí in one of his poems that he would like to die not like a traitor in the dark, but with his face turned towards the sun.

The marble vault bears on the outside the figures of six women bearing the symbols of the Cuban provinces of the time.

In the mausoleum is buried soil from each of the Latin American countries inspired by Martí to help in the struggle for independence.

The guard of the mausoleum, which operates 24 hours a day, is replaced every 30 minutes, with great pomp and ceremony.

The Tomb of Fidel Castro

The remains of the legendary leader were buried there on 5 December 2016 following a procession across the country that retraced the 1959 revolutionaries’ victorious march.

Although the funeral took place early in the morning and was closed to the public, thousands of people gathered outside the cemetery gates and sang the national anthem after a 21-gun salute broke the morning silence.

A huge round rock with Castro’s ashes inside bears a simple black plaque with a single word – “Fidel”.

Other Personalities

The cemetery is also the final resting place of many other famous people, including

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes,

Emilio Bacardí (1844-1922),

Compay Segundo of the Buena Vista Social Club (1907-2003)

First President of Cuba, Tomás Estrada Palma (1835-1908)

Many of the supporters who fought in Angola & Southern AfricaMaría Grajales, widow of independence hero Antonio Maceo
Mariana Grajales, Maceo’s mother…
11 of the 31 generals of the independence struggles

The father of Cuban independence, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (1819-74)
Jardín de los Helechos

This peaceful garden is a lush haven of 350 types of ferns and 90 types of orchids.

The former private collection of the santiaguero Manuel Caluff, donated in 1984 to the Academia de Ciencias de Cuba (Cuban Academy of Sciences), continues to make this 3,000 square meter garden bloom in a psychedelic way.

For orchids, the best period is from November to January.

The bus 5 (20 centavos) from Plaza de Marte, in the centre of Santiago, passes by here, or you can rent a taxi.

It is 2 km from the center of Santiago de Cuba, on the road to El Caney.

Tel: 22 60 83 35

Address: Carretera de El Caney No. 129

Price: 2 Cuc

Hours: 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday

Fábrica de Ron Caney

The oldest rum distillery in Cuba, the former Bacardí family business, today produces Caney, Santiago and Varadero brand rums.

The shop has a bar, live music and free samples.

Unfortunately, there are no factory tours.

Address: Av. Jesús Menéndez y Calle Gonzalo de Quesada

Tel: 26 62 55 76

Price: Free

Hours: 9am – 6pm Monday – Saturday

Bacardí Rum Factory

Although not as chic as its modern headquarters in Bermuda, the original Bacardí factory, opened in 1868, breathes history.

Spanish-born founder Don Facundo came up with the world-famous Bacardí bat symbol after discovering a colony of bats in the rafters of the factory.

The Cuban government continues to make traditional rum there – the emblematic brand of Ron Caney, Ron Santiago and Ron Varadero.

The Bacardí family fled the island after the Revolution.

In total, the factory produces nine million litres of rum a year, 70% of which is exported.

There are currently no tours of the factory, but the Barrita de Ron Havana Club, a tourist bar attached to the factory, offers rum sales and tastings.

Tel: 22 65 12 12

Address: Av Jesús Menéndez, in front of the station

Schedule: 09h-18h

Vista Alegre neighbourhood

This elegant mansion district is a place of historical splendour.

French-inspired plantation houses, majestic Spanish colonial mansions, even the jewels of Art Deco decay beautifully amidst lush vegetation under the clear Caribbean sun.

Chevy Bel Airs and Cadillacs of the late 1950s take place in the wide, quiet streets where time seems to have stood still four decades ago, just before the Revolution.

The neighborhood, framed in bougainvillea and hibiscus, resembles the Vedado of Havana and more the residential areas of Miami.


You like sports?

Direction: Estadio Guillermón Moncada baseball stadium, home town stadium of the Santiago Orientales team.

Tel: 22 64 10 90

Address: Av. de las Américas, Reparto Sueño

Season: March to November. Games on Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm,

Saturday at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 1:30 pm. What to do around Santiago de Cuba?

If you have the time on Santiago, you can take advantage of some of the tourist attractions to deepen your knowledge of the region.
With the exception of the Basilica of El Cobre, you can visit most of the sites on the outskirts of Santiago in one day.

Recommendation: Take a taxi for the day instead of renting a car and driving yourself.

Basilica del Cobre

After a drive through the countryside west of Santiago, you will see the red…

Most of the excursions in the region include a visit to the basilica…

Tile tower of the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre- dedicated to Cuba’s patron saint in 1926- before the copper mining town of

El Cobre in which it is located. The history of the
Tel : 22 34 61 18
Address: Carretera Central, El Cobre | 20 km (12 miles) west of Santiago de Cuba
Times: Daily 6:30 am – 6 pm.
Taxi: about 50 Cuc the round trip
Read More
The history of Santiago de Cuba would be incomplete without going back to the emergence and foundation of the city of Santiago del Prado, today El Cobre, a place where the exploitation of copper deposits has a tradition of more than 480 years.
It was here that the cult of the Virgin of Charity was born among black slaves and Indians. After seeing her in the waters of the Bay of Nipe, she followed a long path to the mining town, whose highest point is home to the Basilica and Sanctuary, where today the most important image of the Patron Saint of Cuba is venerated.
The virgin dates from the early 1600s, when three men in a boat first saw her floating on the water during a storm.
Tradition has it that the Virgin saved one of the men from certain drownings.
Records show that the statue was most likely brought from Spain by order of the governor of Cuba at the time,
Millions of followers believe she has miraculous powers…
Her image has also been mixed with that of Ochún, the orisha, or goddess of love in the religion of Santería.
El Cobre is also a symbol of the cimarronaje and the fights for freedom, because by real map from the beginning of 1800, the slaves of this region were considered free.
Every year in September, pilgrims come here, sometimes crawling or kneeling on the feast of the Virgin (8 September) to pay homage to their image housed in a glass case above the main altar.
Its shrine is filled with gifts from the faithful, including one from Ernest Hemingway in 1954, who gave his Nobel Prize medal, won in large part for his novel The Old Man and the Sea.
The Nobel Medal was stolen in 1986 but recovered.
It is no longer on display, except on special occasions.
A staircase at the back of the cathedral leads to the chapel containing the wooden image of the Virgin.
In front of the cathedral, there is a plaque commemorating the visit of Paul II here during his trip to Cuba in 1998. A taxi is the fastest way out of here.

Castillo del Morro
To the south of the city, the Spanish fortress of Castillo del Morro rises majestically above the bay of Santiago, offering a breathtaking view of the bay and the city.
Built to keep the pirates at bay, the Morro now houses the Museo de la Piratería.
Signage is in Spanish only, but English-speaking guides can guide you for a voluntary tip.
You can enjoy an excellent lunch in the restaurant or simply buy snacks and drinks (and souvenirs, of course) in the stands outside.
There is little shade: sunscreen and a hat on board are the musts.
Consider an early morning or late afternoon visit.
A cannon shooting ceremony is held every day at sunset.

How do I get there?
A taxi from Parque Céspedes costs around 25 Cuc for the round trip, with a waiting time of
It is best to get there by taxi, unless you have a rental car.
The Ruta Turística runs along the bank of the Bahía de Santiago from the city, passing through the Punta Gorda marina and the port of Ciudadmar, near the fortress, from where the ferries to Cayo Granma and La Socapa in the estuary depart.

Address: Carretera del Morro, Km 7.5
Tel: 22 69 15 69
Price: 5 Cuc
Hours: Every day from 10am to 8pm

Read More
The fort was designed in 1587 by the famous Italian military engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli (who also designed forts La Punta and El Morro in Havana and San Juan, Puerto Rico) to protect Santiago from the pirates who had managed to plunder the city in 1554.
Due to financial constraints, construction work did not begin until 1633 (17 years after Antonelli’s death) and continued sporadically for the next 60 years.
In the meantime, British privateer Henry Morgan ransacked and partially destroyed the town in 1662.
It was then and rebuilt between 1690 and 1710.
El Morro has an elaborate labyrinth of drawbridges, moats, passageways, stairs and barracks, all executed with wonderfully precise esquinas and geometric beauty – many people think it is more impressive than the fort in Havana.
Its dark and damp interior cells, with their built-in iron chains, once housed African slaves in transit.
A small chapel still contains a wooden cross carved by a 16th century Spanish artist.
Look for the machine that was used to transport the powerful stone balls from the store to the cannon above.
The enormous batteries, bastions, stores and walls of El Morro have hardly served their true purpose.
With the era of piracy in decline, the fort was converted into a prison in the 1800s and remained so – with the exception of a brief interlude during the Spanish-Cuban-American War of 1898 – until Cuban architect Francisco Prat Puig drew up a restoration plan in the late 1960s.
Today the fort houses the Museo de Piratería, with another room dedicated to the Spanish-American naval battle that took place in the bay in 1898.
The fort, like Havana, holds a daily cañonazo (cannon firing) ceremony at sunset, during which the actors dress up as Mambises.
To get to El Morro from the city centre, take the 212 bus to Ciudamar and walk the last 20 minutes.
Otherwise, a round trip by taxi from Parque Céspedes with a wait should not cost more than 25 Cuc.
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, it is the largest, most complete and best-preserved example of Renaissance military engineering in the Caribbean.
Consisting of a complex of forts, stores, bastions and batteries, it was erected on top of a rocky promontory, making the most of the rugged terrain.
It recreates the different historical periods it witnessed, thus confirming its great historical, architectural and environmental value; for example: the development of the Hispanic fortification system in the Caribbean,

Cayo Granma
Cayo Granma is a charming fishermen island, to visit absolutely if you spend several days in Santiago.
As there are no cars or hotels on the island, the atmosphere is quiet, like in the good old days.
It has a beautiful beach, a small park where locals gather to play dominoes, a school, a few shops and a good seafood restaurant.
You can walk up to the small, whitewashed Iglesia de San Rafael, at the highest point of the key, or walk around the island in 15 minutes.
Many residents offer rooms, and the island is a pleasant and relaxing place to spend a night.

How to get to Cayo GranMa?
There are 3 docks for Cayo GranMa: Malecon de Santiago, CiudadMar or Punta Gorda.
The ferries leave about every hour and a half during the day and follow an itinerary with small stops on the shores of the bay.
Malecón de Santiago: Departure every day at 1pm for 1 Cuc.
Ciudad Mar: The ferry to Cayo Granma leaves from the Ciudadmar pier, 1.6 km from the small beach at the foot of El Morro.
Punta Gorda:, Located below the Fort del Morro. 5 Cuc by taxi from the centre.
Or Eat at Cayo Granma?
There is a unique restaurant that offers a magnificent view of the Bay.
Speciality: Fish and seafood. Speciality of the house: Filet du Cayo (Fish fillet with shrimps and cheese).
Possibility to reserve for dinner, only by reservation.
Tel : 22 69 71 09 | 22 65 27 55 ext. 215 | 22 65 16 03
Service: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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The island was once called Cayo Smith, after the rich English slave merchant who owned it, but the name was changed after the Revolution.
Today, Cayo Granma has about 750 inhabitants, some of whom still fish and build boats for a living, although most of them travel by ferry to Santiago to work in factories or offices.
Gran Piedra
Weighing more than 75,000 tons, and located 1,234 meters above sea level, the Gran Piedra is located northeast of the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Every bend in the road reveals a new view of the mountains and the sea,
On a clear night, you can even see the lights of Jamaica…
La Gran Piedra is an ideal place for climbing.
The ascent of the steps of the Gran Piedra is not free (2 Cuc).

Lodging :
Most people come for the day, but you can stay at the Villa Gran Piedra, an “eco-lodge” with comfortable rustic cabins along the mountain ridge, and stunning views.
Close to the Gran Piedra you should not miss the Jardín Ave de Paraíso (Garden of Birds of Paradise; daily from 8am to 5pm).
Parque Histórico Abel Santamaría
The Parque Histórico Abel Santamaría is a very busy place, where plants struggle to survive, boys play baseball and groups of elderly people take exercise classes.
The impressive monument in the park is dedicated to Abel Santamaría, Fidel Castro’s second-in-command during the uprising and attack on the Moncada barracks in 1953.
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It was Santamaría’s responsibility to create a diversionary fire at the hospital, which he continued to do, unaware that the main assault had failed, until he was surrounded.
The rebels were captured and tortured, and most were executed.
Batista’s men gouged out Santamaría’s eyes and presented them to her sister, Haydée, a revolutionary comrade, to make her speak, but she remained silent.
Ophthalmological hospitals in Cuba now bear the name Abel Santamaría.
Baconao Park
Natural park of 800 km2, declared by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.
The region has several museums, leisure sites, historical monuments and curiosities, such as the “valley of prehistory” and a dolphinarium aquarium.©

Best things to do in Santiago in 1, 2, 3 or 4 Days

  • 1 day in Santiago de Cuba : stroll in Cespedes Park, Enramada Street, have a Mojito at the Artex patio, visit the Tivoli neighborhood, enjoy a sunset on the roof of Casa Granda, and see a concert at La Trova in Calle Heredia.
  • 2 days : Go to see a concert at the Casa de las Tradiciones, Ifigenia cemetery, stroll on the port Alameda, the Plaza de Marte, el Castillo del Moro…
  • 3 days: del Moro, the Gran Piedra, the Virgen del Cobre, the Cartel de Moncada, the Revolution Square, Ferry to Cayo Granma, or the Casa del Caribe.
  • 4 days : you are ready to marry a Cuban 😉

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