On your visit to Santiago de Cuba you cannot afford to miss the experience of exploring its unique natural and cultural landscapes, many of which are inseparable from the history of the city and the region. From the wonderful landscapes of the Sierra Maestra to the contagious rhythms of tumba francesa, this will be a visit you will never forget.

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Santiago de Cuba Santiago: the heart of Cuban trova

THE CITY, ITS PEOPLE AND THEIR STORIES

Santiago: the heart of Cuban trova

Every night, the Casa de la Trova in Santiago de Cuba, right in the heart of the old town, welcomes its guests to an authentic experience of Cuban music. The city is the cradle of some of the island's iconic music genres and trova is one of these. Pepe Sánchez, Ñico Saquito, Sindo Garay, Elíades Ochoa and Compay Segundo are just some of the renowned exponents of this tradition that has continued in this city for decades. These spontaneous evenings of joy will introduce you to the natural rhythms and cadence of traditional trova, as well as offering you the chance to interact with the artists while you enjoy the local rum.

Santiago de Cuba AS NIGHT FALLS, FROM THE “BELLO BAR” TERRACE

MEMORABLE SANTIAGO

AS NIGHT FALLS, FROM THE “BELLO BAR” TERRACE

The tall, majestic Meliá Santiago de Cuba offers beautiful views of the city and the Sierra Maestra. On the top floor of the hotel, the “Bello Bar” is also a wonderful viewpoint with its terrace, ideal for spending time with your friends or partner, watching the sun go down and enjoying one of its delicious cocktails.

Céspedes Park and surrounding areas

The main square of Santiago de Cuba is a very vibrant space. With an architecture of various converging styles, it is surrounded by some of the most iconic buildings: the Town Hall, the Museum House of Diego Velázquez, the Cathedral, the old San Carlos Club and the Hotel Casa Granda. It stands on the original site of what initially in 1515 was the seventh village on the island, now the second largest city in the country.

Velázquez Balcony

In January 1950, the construction project for the “Velázquez Balcony” was approved by the Santiago de Cuba City Council, in honour of the city's founder. The intention was to give the city a viewing point, which was to encapsulate the very beginnings of Santiago de Cuba, from its first bastion of defence, as well as prominent figures who transcended the era of the city's foundation.

The Troubadour's House

The Casa de la Trova José “Pepe” Sánchez ensures that the traditional Cuban music of the troubadours is continued, disseminated and taken to all corners of the world. This venue hosts small musical groups. It is also hosts the International “Pepe Sánchez” Trova Festival, which is held in the city every year in the month of September.

Emilio Bacardí Museum

It was the first institution of its kind to open in Cuba, in 1899. Its founder and promoter was Emilio Bacardí Moreau, the first mayor of Santiago de Cuba. It houses some remarkable examples of Pre-Columbian culture, national art and Cuban history, including various objects that belonged to the National Hero of Cuba, José Martí. It boasts an important collection of colonial paintings, as well as works from the Spanish Renaissance and pieces by Cuban artists.

Rum Museum

Located in the iconic warehouses of the port, this museum of Santiago de Cuba tells the story of rum production and has five exhibition halls, displaying photographs and items dating from the early rum production up to the present day. There is also an area with ageing barrels, displaying a range of rum labels and containers, from early brands that have since disappeared, such as Matusalén and Caribbean Club, to others that are still around today, such as Ron Santiago and Caney.

Tivoli District

A neighbourhood of Santiago de Cuba which is a melting pot of all Cuban cultures and ethnicities. The Haitian Revolution, at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, led to its urban development. It belongs to the city's French heritage and is symbolic of this history, which is closely associated with Tivoli. Even today, the neighbourhood reflects the harmonious blend of the cultured and the popular. Poets and trobadours have extolled its uniqueness, the warm and joyful nature of its inhabitants, making it one of the main tourist attractions in Santiago de Cuba.

Padre Pico Steps

Built in 1899 under the auspices of the Mayor Emilio Bacardí and in honour of the Catholic priest Bernardo del Pico Redín, it is one of the most well-known streets in Santiago de Cuba. It forms a natural viewing point and is one of the ways into the district of El Tivoli. It has 52 steps, divided into 13 flights of 4 steps each, with 12 landings.

Port of Santiago de Cuba

It was built in 1494, coinciding with Christopher Columbus's second voyage to the island. Its original name was Puerto de Rey (King's Port) and it was from here that, years later (1516), Hernán Cortés sailed to conquer Mexico. At the end of the 18th century, construction work began on the quays and jetties, giving it an industrial appearance.

Carnival Museum

The Carnival Museum was opened in June 1983 and takes the visitor through the different stages of this popular event which fills the city with music and dancing every July. Its exhibits include models of floats, trophies, costumes, capes, street decorations, as well as musical instruments from the main bands taking part in the festivities: cabildo carabalí, tumba francesa and conga santiaguera.

Santiago de Cuba Cayo Granma and the art of fishing

THE CITY, ITS PEOPLE AND THEIR STORIES

Cayo Granma and the art of fishing

A typical trip in Santiago is to take one of the small boats across the bay to Cayo Granma. The islet has long been home to a community of fishermen, who jealously guard their traditions and values. In addition to the interesting architecture of the key's houses, this spot is renowned for its close relationship with the sea and the countless tales of its inhabitants.

Santiago de Cuba Sunset over the bay of Santiago de Cuba

MEMORABLE SANTIAGO

Sunset over the bay of Santiago de Cuba

The calm waters of the bay of Santiago de Cuba constantly invite you to explore the coastal area and the entrance to the port. As well as its stunning views, on a sunny day you can still make out many of the ships that sank in this area at the height of the Spanish-American War.

Plaza Dolores

One of the most popular spaces in the Old Town. Colonial-style houses in the surrounding area accommodate various restaurants and the Taberna de Dolores. The most striking building, the former church of Dolores, has been turned into a beautiful concert hall and is now home to the orchestra Orquesta Sinfónica de Oriente. It also hosts the Santiago de Cuba International Choir Festival, which is held every two years in November.

Plaza de Marte

It is one of the most central spaces in the city, created in the late 18th century. The square pays homage to the independence of Cuba. It is one of the favourite haunts of the city's locals. It is close to institutions such as the Iris Jazz Club, the Rex and Libertad hotels, as well as the Patio Los Dos Abuelos, a traditional music venue.

Moncada Barracks

This military barracks entered the history books following the attack carried out by a group of young people led by Fidel Castro. Their objective was to take the enclave and then make their way into the mountains of Santiago de Cuba to commence the struggle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Today it is home to the Ciudad Escolar 26 de Julio and also houses a museum that recounts the events that took place there on 26 July 1953.

Plaza de la Revolución Square

Located at the entrance to the city of Santiago de Cuba, it is considered to be the most important 20th century monument to have been created in the city. Commemorating the hero Antonio Maceo, it boasts the country's tallest statue, 16 metres in height, a work by the Santiago-born sculptor Alberto Lezcay. Inside, by means of holograms, visitors can admire a collection of objects belonging to the man known as the Bronze Titan.

Teatro Heredia

This is the most important cultural centre in Santiago de Cuba. An institution specialising in the planning, organisation and promotion of artistic performances, exhibitions, festivals, conferences, conventions, congresses and other events. It hosts the EXPOCARIBE International Trade Show and is one of the venues for the Festival of the Caribbean, commonly known as the Fiesta del Fuego (Fire Festival).

Santa Ifigenia Cemetery

The Santa Ifigenia cemetery is the second largest in the country and one of the key places to visit in Santiago de Cuba. It is the resting place for the remains of many members of Cuba's independence movement, including those of Cuba's National Hero, José Martí, and the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

Santiago de Cuba The Steel Band in El Cobre

THE CITY, ITS PEOPLE AND THEIR STORIES

The Steel Band in El Cobre

The surrounding areas of the town of El Cobre are full of cultural fusion. Migrants from other Caribbean islands settled in the area, bringing with them their own beliefs, culture and musical instruments. As part of this legacy, the town has its own unique Steel Band, made up of descendants from both the Cayman Islands and Cuba, united by art and the desire to perfect one of the most authentically Caribbean sounds.

Santiago de Cuba Tropicana, a Havana legend with a Santiago flavour

MEMORABLE SANTIAGO

Tropicana, a Havana legend with a Santiago flavour

For anyone who says that things are never as good the second time around, the “Tropicana Santiago” Cabaret is just for you. The legendary night under the stars, with a luxury show and amazing costumes in true Havana style, does not detract from the pure eastern flavour of this place. A venue for enjoying a wonderful night of the best of Cuba's music and dance.

Sanctuary of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre

A place of worship dedicated to the Patron Saint of Cuba. This iconic spot on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba is a place of pilgrimage for many Cubans. They come to worship the Patron Saint of Cuba and the last three Popes have visited and given Mass in the Sanctuary.

Castle of San Pedro de la Roca (El Morro)

A historic military structure at the entrance to the bay of Santiago de Cuba and a World Heritage Site. The heartbeat of the old town, this beautiful square is a popular meeting place for both locals and visitors. On one side of the Church of La Soledad, you can take different routes through the popular streets such as Calle República, the boulevard or Calle de los Cines.

Loma de San Juan

A historic complex dedicated to the wars of independence. On the outskirts of the city of Santiago de Cuba stands this historic park which reflects many of the historical events of the struggle for independence in the region, specifically the events of the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century.

Cayo Granma

Situated at the entrance to the bay of Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Granma is a small island and fishing community. It is renowned for the unique architecture of its dwellings, as well as the traditions of the local community.

Santiago de Cuba The famous Santiago festivities

THE CITY, ITS PEOPLE AND THEIR STORIES

The famous Santiago festivities

It is often said in Cuba that there is no carnival quite like the one in Santiago. And along with the traditional heat of the Cuban summer, July brings a whole month of celebrations to Cuba's most Caribbean city. The month begins with the internationally renowned Fiesta del Fuego (Fire Festival), one of the key cultural festivals in Caribbean culture. And towards the end of the month, it is Carnival time. Days full of fun, when both locals and visitors join together to celebrate like never before, to the beat of the Santiago conga.

Santiago de Cuba Plaza de Marte and the heat of Santiago

MEMORABLE SANTIAGO

Plaza de Marte and the heat of Santiago

In a city with an everlasting summer, the squares fill with people and their stories. In Santiago de Cuba, one of these iconic spaces is the Plaza de Marte. Baseball is a common topic of conversation, as are the trials and tribulations of everyday life. But more than anything, it is a place for socialising and expressing all the warmth and hospitality of a city in love with its sea and its mountains, its conga and its rum, with the traditions that make this place so special.

La Gran Piedra (The Great Stone)

The beautiful natural landscape of the Sierra Maestra. One of the highest points in the Sierra Maestra, renowned for the impressive monolith rising from the summit. The climb to the top rewards you with a wonderful view of the wealth of nature in Cuba's eastern mountain range, with its numerous species of flora and fauna, many native to the region. On a clear day, you can see as far as the coasts of Haiti, as well as stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.

Ave del Paraíso Botanical Garden

An important reserve which is home to species native to eastern Cuba. Situated in the Sierra de la Gran Piedra, it is home to several hundred plant species, including 222 ferns, 352 orchids, eucalyptus, pines, cypress trees and a wide variety of fruit trees, as well as the plant that gives its name to this spot. Climbing its 459 steps, the visitor comes to a natural viewing point, with wonderful views of the unrivalled beauty of the south-east coast.

Remains of the coffee plantations

An archaeological landscape declared a World Heritage Site. The archaeological landscapes of the first coffee plantations in the south-east of Cuba were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000 as they are unique evidence of a pioneering form of agriculture in difficult terrain.

Tumba Francesa

A symbol of the French-Haitian cultural heritage and Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Tumba Francesa “La Caridad de Oriente”, was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in November 2003. It is a recreational cultural space, with origins dating back to the 19th century. In this form of artistic expression, African slaves blended their rhythms with the French dances of the Caribbean. Tumba Francesa preserves authentic musical instruments, dances, music and songs of ancestors, as well as culinary customs, laws and native spiritual rules. Its drums, crafted by African hands, are over a century old.

OTHER PLACES YOU CAN NOT LOSE

26th of July Historical Museum

This museum is located in the former Moncada Barracks, a military fortification which came under attack on 26 July 1953 by a group of young revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro Ruz. This event launched the final stage of the struggle for the country's freedom. The museum exhibits some of the revolutionaries' personal belongings, some of the weaponry used and photographs of the historical event, as well as a valuable coin collection.

Baconao National Park

One of the most beautiful Biosphere Reserves in Cuba. This park covers an extensive area of forest, offering visitors numerous attractions such as the Valley of Prehistory, the Museum of Land Transport, the Great Lagoon of Baconao, Daiquirí beach and the Great Stone, a stunning viewing point in the ruins of a French coffee plantation.

Baracoa

Baracoa was the first settlement founded by the Spanish conquistadors in 1512. This attractive city is located in Guantánamo, the eastern most province of the country that borders Santiago de Cuba. Visitors can enjoy one of the most beautiful natural scenic views in the Caribbean, especially El Yunque Mountain that dominates Baracoa's horizon.

Loma de San Juan

The silent witness of history, as this is where the final battle of the Spanish-Cuban-American war was fought, bringing the end to an era. At the helm of a brigade at this battle was a future president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. This is the only place in Cuba with a monument to the American soldier.

Metropolitan Cathedral

This is one of the continent's oldest cathedrals, the seat of the fourth bishopric of America, although the building that it currently occupies was built in 1922, thus reflecting the eclectic style of architecture. One of its sides houses the Ecclesiastical Museum, with a valuable collection of furniture, paintings and sacred artefacts.

Padre Pico

This is undoubtedly one of the city's most well-known streets. It offers an excellent natural viewing point and is the only stepped street in Cuba. It also marks the boundary between the upper and lower areas of Santiago de Cuba and leads down to the Tivolí district, the finest stage for the famous Santiago carnival.

Santiago Carnaval

One of the city's most famous popular celebrations, the carnival originated as a religious procession organised by the church authorities every 25th of July, in honour of St James the Apostle. Their Spanish, African and Franco-Haitian roots distinguish the Santiago carnivals from those held in the rest of the country and that is why there is a museum dedicated to them. In Santiago, festivals are a part of life.

Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre

The basilica of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the Patron Saint of Cuba, can be found 27 km from the city centre, in a mining town founded in 1830. The Basilica stands on a gentle hill and contains display cases with items such as the medal received by the writer Ernest Hemingway on being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre was crowned by Pope John Paul II in 1998, during his visit to Cuba. Every 8th of September, her feast day, thousands of pilgrims come here to give thanks and beg favours of the blessed virgin.

Sierra Maestra

The Great National Park, covering around 38,000 hectares across the provinces of Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo. This is not only the site of the highest point on the Island, the Pico Turquino (1,974 metres above sea level), but also the peaks of Cuba, Caracas and Magdalena, ideal for mountain climbing. Of particular interest to visitors is the place known as El Saltón-Cedrón, ideal for ecotourism and health tourism.

The Diego Velázquez House-Museum

The construction of this house dates back to 1515 and it is therefore thought to be the oldest building in Cuba. In the 16th century it was a trading house and was subsequently used for the establishment of a gold and silver foundry. The walls, ceilings, some of the doors and the furnace are original. It now houses the Museum of Cuban History, displaying furniture and domestic items dating from the 16th to the 19th century.

Tropicana Santiago

Every night, the Santiago Tropicana cabaret offers its performance "Viaje al Caribe" (a Journey to the Caribbean), which narrates the history of the people of Santiago, the most Caribbean city in Cuba, where one can feel the influence of Haiti and its voodoo religion and French customs, Dominican Republic and its merengue, Jamaica and its reggae and Puerto Rico among others. This modern facility has been elegantly decorated with traditional elements that blend-in with the lush natural vegetation surrounding the area.

SANTIAGO DE CUBA BY NIGHT

As the sun sets over the eastern part of the island, the city of Santiago comes alive with the joy of its people. On every corner you will find people in animated conversation or striking up an improvised melody.
You can also find some amazing nightspots. The popular Casa de la Trova is not to be missed if you want to enjoy traditional Cuban music in true Santiago style. Meanwhile, the Iris Jazz Club has an excellent atmosphere and some great sounds. If dancing is your thing, the Tropicana Santiago Cabaret is highly recommended.
On the Avenida de las Américas, the hotel Meliá Santiago de Cuba awaits those wishing to spend a relaxing evening in the attractive Bello Bar, with its terrace and stunning views of the city. Its “Santiago Café” nightclub is the perfect option for those seeking a few hours of fun and good music.

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