Seafaring Caibarién, White Town in the Atlantic

Seafaring Caibarién, White Town in the Atlantic

Heritage & Traditions

By Ana Maria Silveira

Called the Villa Blanca (White Town), the city of Caibarién rises in front of the Atlantic Ocean, on the north coast of the central region of Cuba, with a rich history and centuries-old maritime traditions.

Settled in the lands of the Sabana or Sabaneque chiefdom, today the city for a long time a ranch in the nearby town of San Juan de los Remedios, since colonial times. The definitive foundation of the town dates from October 26, 1832; On August 31, 1873, it was granted the title of Villa and on January 1, 1879, the town hall was established.

The name of the city, historians point out, comes from the Arawak Cay Barién, presumably an aboriginal town established in the area. Located in an open bay, without land elevations surrounding it that would prevent the arrival of solar rays, the characterization of Villa Blanca is attributed to the light and color that predominated in its houses, painted with lime, and in its streets, that run in a rectilinear way from north to south and from east to west.

The town's economic evolution is closely linked to the sea and the port, which was very prosperous mainly in the last decades of the 19th century and the first of the 20th. By exporting the production of the sugar mills, it was linked to various ports in the United States and Europe, and sustained an important trade in marine products throughout the country.

Its breeding grounds for oysters, sponges and especially Moorish crab were famous, a crustacean whose abundance in Caibarién also gave it the name of Villa de los Crabs, with a large sculpture of that animal at the entrance of the city, work of the renowned Cuban fine arts artist Florencio Gelabert, a native of those lands.

The city is the prelude to the keys in the north of the Villa Clara province —Santa María, Ensenachos and Las Brujas—, with great tourism development in recent decades and today one of the main sun and beach poles in the country.

The city has been linked to them since the late 1980s, when the construction of a 48-kilometer overland road over the sea, which Cubans call pedraplén, was completed. The road deserved the Bridge of Alcántara international award for the Best Ibero-American Civil Work, for the special care of the environment..

The Villa Blanca undergoes renovation, as part of an Urban Reorganization Plan, approved last year by the Cuban Council of Ministers, which includes the revival of the coastal environment, the improvement of services and living conditions, and the enhancement of its historical, cultural and architectural heritage, among others.