Pinar del Río, Capital of Tobacco
By Alejandro Rodriguez Ruiz
In the westernmost portion of the island of Cuba, a territory privileged by nature and green par excellence, the town of Pinar del Río was born, which became a city by royal order on September 10, 1867 and known today as the Capital of Tobacco.
The historical evolution of the city that it is today began with land grants to settlers around the middle of the 16th century in the Guamá River area, with a profusion of pine forests on its banks, to which its name is attributed. At the end of the seventeenth century there was already a peasant village that began to grow tobacco, and in 1710 the first hermitage was built, dedicated to San Rosendo.
In 1773, the captain general of the island, Felipe Fonsdeviela, began to promote a population nucleus in those properties that was the head of the later province, and in 1776, the lieutenant governor settled in the territory, which was then named Nueva Filipinas and which received the title of town in 1859.
The process of constitution of the city and province of Pinar del Río was inextricably linked to the cultivation of tobacco, by which this region called Vueltabajo in particular, and Cuba, in general, are known throughout the world.
Pinar del Río is a city that invites you to explore it in a leisurely walk, which allows you to appreciate the typical style of its homes, with red tile roofs and wide open portals, its public spaces such as the Park of the Independence, old Plaza de Armas, and its emblematic buildings, with eclectic and neoclassical architecture.
These include the José Jacinto Milanés Theater, from the early 19th century one of the eight great coliseums built in Cuba during the colony, and the Tranquilino Sandalio de Noda Museum of Natural Sciences, located in the Guasch Palace, from the early twentieth century and an architectural symbol of the town.
The city is also a good starting point to discover places of the exuberant nature of the province, where there are 34 protected areas, among them the Guanahacabibes National Park, World Biosphere Reserve, and the Viñales Valley, Cultural Landscape of Humanity.