Santiago de Cuba, Cultural Capital of the Caribbean
By Rose Ross
Santiago de Cuba is a city marked by history and beauty. It is full of intensity, heat, rhythm and traditions like no other. Visiting it provides an unforgettable experience to those who come to eastern Cuba. It is known as the Cultural Capital of the Caribbean and the Mecca of Son, although it also has luxury enclaves with an environment full of natural parks.
The Baconao Biosphere Reserve includes several protected areas such as the Retiro Natural Reserve, the Siboney Juticí Ecological Reserve, the Pico Mogote Ecological Reserve and the Gran Piedra Protected Natural Landscape. In general, the territory has a total of 16 protected areas between Natural Reserve and Ecological Reserve, which add up to an area of 93,519 km2.
You can also visit fortresses such as the Castillo del Morro, the legendary Castillo San Pedro de la Roca, one of the most beautiful and attractive places in the eastern city. Built in order to protect the city from attacks by corsairs and pirates in colonial times, it was declared by Unesco in 1998 as a World Heritage Site given its historical value and excellent state of conservation.
For its part, the House of Diego Velázquez is the oldest on the island. It was built between 1516 and 1530. The Spanish conqueror, who arrived in the archipelago on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus, lived there. Currently, it is a museum where they keep original pieces that exemplify the life of those times.
The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, the second most important in Cuba, is a sacred place where the remains of patriots and important figures of the country rest, such as national hero José Martí and the ashes of historical leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro Ruz.