The rich history of Las Tunas

The rich history of Las Tunas

Heritage & Traditions

By Alejandro Rodriguez Ruiz

Among the nicknames by which The province of Las Tunas is known, is that of Eastern Balcony (Balcón del Oriente), because that portion of the Cuban territory begins in the East, so full of history and traditions.


The first historical reference to the region that today occupies Las Tunas, a city and province of the same name, dates back to 1510, when the Spanish conqueror Alonso de Ojeda arrived there, after the ship in which he was traveling to Hispaniola was shipwrecked.


In the territory then existed the aboriginal chiefdoms of Maniabón and Boyucá, to the north, and Cueybá, to the south. The town of Las Tunas was officially founded in 1796, received the title of town in 1848 and that of city in 1853. Its name is attributed to the existence of a large cattle ranch where the tuna brava proliferated, a spiny plant that became a whole reference.


Despite the fact that its history goes back centuries, and unlike other Cuban colonial towns, Las Tunas does not keep traces of that historical period. The reason for this was the destruction of the city on three occasions during the wars of independence, burned by the Creole forces in their confrontation with the Spanish army. This happened in 1869, 1876 and finally in 1897, a year before the North American intervention whwen the end of the independence struggle was about to end.


In the mid-20th century, the city began to resurface with an eclectic architecture, characterized by masonry residences with tiled roofs, columns, and portals. Capital of Sculptures is another of the traits for which the city is known, as it is decorated by more than 100 great works made by notable Cuban artists.


In Las Tunas one of the most significant celebrations of the national culture takes place, called the Cucalambe Journeys, in remembrance of the poet Juan Cristóbal Napoles Fajardo "The Cucalambe".


Considered the most outstanding bucolic creator of the 19th century, the singer of the Cuban fields was born in 1829 in that region, also called Land of the Cucalambé.