The Great Stone of Cuba
Ana Maria Silveira
The monumental Gran Piedra (Great Stone), with well-deserved capital letters for a huge rock that distinguishes the Santiago de Cuba region, constitutes one of the island's relevant destinations for nature-loving travelers from all over the world.
The gigantic mass is one of the many attractions found in eastern Cuba, and not only for its international recognition but, above all, for its intrinsic values in terms of geology, fauna, flora, history ... National Monument of Cuba, the Great Stone is a huge rock 55 meters long, 25 wide and weighing around 63 thousand tons, located on the top of a mountain at 1,225 meters above sea level, a well-defined solitary rock, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as one of the three heaviest in the world.
According to experts, the theory closest to its origin indicates that its existence is due to the explosion of an underwater volcano in the Paleogene, although there are others that speak of the fall of a meteorite.
From its top, which you climb through 452 steps in the middle of a profuse vegetation, you can see impressive images of the region's southeast Caribbean coast, with beautiful beaches; the city of Santiago de Cuba and elevations of the Sierra Maestra mountain range, the Great National Park to which it belongs.
The flora of the place includes some 200 varieties of ferns and more than 350 of orchids, eucalyptus, maestrense pines, cubenses, cypresses and various fruit trees, and the fauna, one of its great values, is represented by woodpeckers, royal thrushes, cartacubas, hawks, torcazas, mayitos and tocororos, the national bird.
For history lovers, the area treasures traces of coffee plantations established by French settlers who camwe from Haiti in the 18th and 19th centuries, after the revolution on the island of Hispaniola.