Under the shade of a tree, the story of a city
By Julia Muñoz Photos José (Tito) Meriño
The historical park of San Juan and the Tree of Peace are located in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, located on the Loma de San Juan, a height that dominates the valley and the homonymous river.
In that park, a decisive battle took place during the Spanish-Cuban-American war, and under this tree the capitulation of Santiago was signed. On July 17, 1898, the capitulation of Santiago de Cuba was agreed under a beautiful ceiba tree, which went down in history with the name of "Tree of Peace", surrounded by cannons and plaques to signify its role in the end of the war.
Sincethen, this site is part of the Santiago and Cuban culture, and its surroundings breathe the air of history. During the first US intervention, a small obelisk and a fort was built with the idea of perpetuating the place, but it was not until the late 1920s that Colonel José González Valdés, head of the Oriente military district, managed to turn the site into a memorial park.
TheLoma de San Juan has several monuments and plaques erected in memory of the event and those who fell during the pro-independence feats. -
The bronze sculptures of the Victorious Mambí, the unknown American soldier and the Spanish soldier can be seen, recreated in a pleasant journey where cannons and field artillery set the scene.
Afew months after the centennial of the historic event, expired by time, the tree fell forever; only its huge trunk is still there. Both the Loma de San Juan and the Tree of Peace, united by history and proximity, constitute an interesting monumental complex due to their conception of integration with the natural environment.