Gibara: White town of crabs and cinema festival

Gibara: White town of crabs and cinema festival

Heritage & Traditions

By Alejandro Rodriguez Ruiz

With one of the best preserved colonial architecture centers in Cuba, the bicentennial city of Gibara, in an exuberant and varied natural environment, is one of the most attractive destinations in the northeast of the Caribbean island.


The great admiral Christopher Columbus, who for several days sheltered from a storm in the bay of the area, was there on his discovery trip in October 1492. The illustrious sailor called the region Río de Mares and made contact with the native communities, which at that time were abundant in those estates, but declined considerably in the early days of the conquest.


The current name of the town comes from aboriginal voices, although historians point to different origins: jibá (common bush in those lands), jíbaro, guiabara (tree used in the manufacture of charcoal) or siba-roca (land of the rock). It is also popularly known as the White Village of the Crabs, which is attributed to the proliferation of the Cardiosoma guanhumz (white crab), which in the spawning period crosses the city towards the coast, offering a unique image.


Today belonging to the province of Holguín and head of the municipality of the same name, the foundation of Gibara dates from 1817, when the construction of the San Fernando Fort (Fernando VII Battery) began, a necessary enclave against the incursions of corsairs and pirates.


Trade, mainly from the bay and the Cacoyuguín River, together with an appreciable agricultural production, was fundamental in the development of the town, which for its proper protection became the second walled city on the island.


The architecture of the colony is combined with styles of the 20th century and modernity, forming the interesting urban landscape of the city, whose historic center was declared a National Monument in 2004. Among the heritage sites of interest are the exponents of the colonial defensive system, the Museum of the Cuban Environment, the History Museum, with pieces from the aboriginal settlements.

 Among others, the parish church, the old headquarters of the Spanish Casino and the Calixto García Íñiguez Park, former Plaza de Armas, where a small replica of the Statue of Liberty stands, built by Italian sculptors with popular fundraising, dedicated to the entry of the independence troops to the city on July 25, 1898.


In 2003, the city became the permanent headquarters of the International Poor Film Festival, founded by prominent director Humberto Solás to stimulate auteur cinema, low-budget and with a prevalence of the artistic, which later became the Gibara International Film Festival , a whole party in the town with the conjunction of various cultural manifestations.


Other diverse attractions invite you to visit this city of the Cuban northeastern coast, among them its fishing village traditions, which give rise to a rich gastronomy based on marine products, and especially its population, friendly and welcoming.