Padre Pico, a street symbol of Santiago de Cuba

Padre Pico, a street symbol of Santiago de Cuba

Heritage & Traditions

Nina Pereira

The orographic peculiarities of the city of Santiago de Cuba, with steep slopes in much of its territory, are grateful for the existence of an authentic symbol of that eastern city, Padre Pico Street, among the best known and most visited in the country.

There are other staggered routes to make it easier for passers-by to walk through Santiago, but on this one, the Padre Pico Stairway, you ascend and descend for the mere pleasure of doing it, to get views of the city, breathe its history, appreciate the typical centenary houses that still survive and feel the lively life of their neighbors.

The unique urban artery, with 52 steps grouped into 13 sections of four steps each and 12 landings, was built in 1899 on the Corvacho hill, where there was a grocery store owned by a Catalan with the same surname, and was officially opened on October 2, 1903.

The work was carried out at the request of writer and patriot Emilio Bacardí Moreau, the first mayor of Santiago de Cuba in the Republic, who also proposed the name of the new street, dedicated to Bernardo Antonio del Pico Redín, dean of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, for his exemplary life and love for the people.

In its estates there is a history of various eras. Before its installation, in March 1874, the considered Father of the Nation, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, initiator of the war, was veiled at the Casa de la Intendencia, at the intersection with Calle Santa Rita, today at the top of the staircase on October 10, 1868, start of the Independence war.

The young Antonio Alomá also died there on November 30, 1956, during an uprising in support of the landing of the Granma yacht commanded by Fidel Castro as part of the fight against the Fulgencio Batista regime.

Located in the rich historical center of the city, Padre Pico Street is a kind of gateway to the emblematic Tivolí neighborhood, fostered by French settlers fleeing the Haitian Revolution, which has become a cultural melting pot, the cradle of the famous Santiago carnivals and many of the most important musicians in the musical history of Cuba.