CubaPLUS Magazine

Heritage gems of Cuba, the charm of places and traditions

By: Teresa Fiel
Feb 12, 2024
Heritage gems of Cuba, the charm of places and traditions

They form a warp whose components are called Heritage Gems of Cuba, the set of natural and sociocultural sites recognized until date by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, without counting on the system of natural reserves instituted with the range of exclusive values of the biosphere at the world and certain cultural traditions of similar relevant merit.

06-havana-old-square-p.jpgSo, without going into the complexities, today we will mention the main enclaves, the dazzling gems or jewels from our national heritage, which invite the foreigner traveler and locals to enjoy Cuba to the fullest. The relationship begins with the Center or Historic Center of Old Havana and its system of fortifications. The city was founded there by the Spanish on November 16, 1519, in front of the protected Carenas stock market bay. This area, subjected to a profound restoration and conservation process, contains a significant wealth in architectural, cultural and social works that become one of the most important tourist centers in the nation, along with the famous Varadero spa, sun and beach destination.

The second Gem to include in this list is the Valle de los Ingenios, and the also very historic and beautiful city of Trinidad, inaugurated in 1514, in the center-south of Cuba, by Adelantado Diego Velázquez. In that region, the process of sugarcane plantations and sugar production of that grass, leading to the sugar mill boom recorded since the mid-19th century, marking a time of prosperity and structural and cultural splendor in the city, currently with a high conservation level.

Faro-Bahia-de-Santiago-de-Cuba.jpgWe then headed to the southeast of Cuba, precisely to the city of Santiago de Cuba, the most Caribbean city in the country and the second most important city in the nation due to its history and administrative political weight. At least, that's what tradition says.

There, among notable values, there is another Gem: the Castle of San Pedro de la Roca, an ancient military fortress built with the same Renaissance style as most of the great Havana fortification system. But San Pedro has a spectacular view of the warm Caribbean Sea and has a very interesting career as a defender of the city that was attacked first, repeatedly, by corsairs and sea dogs, and was the scene of the final battle of the war of independence, when a foreign intervening army intruded into the Cuban affairs.

Today it is a recreational place highly appreciated for its varied services and views, wonderful views of the bay and the city. The majestic Desembarco del Granma National Park is a vast region geographic that includes the left wing of the Sierra Maestra mountain range, looking at the map of Cuba, with vast reservoirs of forest wealth, biodiversity of fauna, and historical values that are very endearing to the Cuban people, as it keeps places linked to the struggles for freedom in various stages.

Following the direction of the Maestra mountain range, but further east is another point considered a Gem. It is the so-called Archaeological Landscape of the first plantations of coffee in the southeast of Cuba, where since the beginning of the 19th century, productive and beautiful coffee plantations, owned by French emigrants and their slaves.

parque-nacional-a-humbolt-p.jpgAnother very interesting page of our history and national culture. The Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, on the northernmost and central flank of The East, possibly the richest region in biodiversity of the insular Caribbean, is followed by an enclave considered a heritage jewel with the respective recognition of the UNESCO.

A different twist offers us the next Gem: the urban historic center of Cienfuegos, the beautiful city in the center and south of Cuba, capital of its province name, located at the foot of a clean and beautiful bay. The eclectic style predominates in the architecture of that urban center born with a rationalist structure in the first quarter of the 19th century with the arrival of a group of French emigrants.

With a more refined style of colonial tradition is the historic city of Camagüey, in the eastern center of Cuba, founded in 1514, that has very defining contributions and produces admiration today for its good preserved temples, mansions, squares and the sinuous and charming network of its older streets.

The Viñales Valley, in the western province of Pinar del Río, is part of the network close to the Guaniguanico mountain range, which together with the peninsula of Guanacahabibes form the most valuable set of ecosystems in that area amazing. The Viñales Valley is one of the most relevant landscapes in Cuba, for its surprising karst hillocks covered in vegetation and the proximity of emporiums communal areas with great cultural traditions, superb nearby cave systems and other treasures..

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