Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the capital of the Santiago de Cuba province and the second biggest city in Cuba. It is an essential seaport and is located between the Sierra Maestra mountain range and the Caribbean. It is about 540 miles from the Cuban capital, Havana. It is lauded as the cultural capital that played a crucial role in the growth of Cuban architecture, literature, music and politics.
Santiago de Cuba has witnessed some historical events that shaped Cuba into the country it is today. The Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar made Santiago de Cuba his capital in 1515. The settlement, destroyed by fire in 1516, was rebuilt from the ground up. Santiago remained the capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba till 1589.
The city then experienced migration from France and Britain towards the end of the 18th century. San Pedro de la Roca, a local citadel is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is regarded as “the most complete and well-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture based on Italian and Renaissance design principles”. The first Cathedral in Cuba was built in Santiago, so were the first copper mine, and the first museum. Famous poet and nationalist, José Martí is buried in a grand mausoleum at Cementerio Santa Efigenia. Santiago is also home to another famous poet, José María Heredia, and the Bacardí rum-making family.
More recently, Fidel Castro launched the Cuban Revolution in Santiago with the attack on the Moncada Barracks. Victory was proclaimed from a balcony on the city hall on 1st January 1959.
Santiago is known for the July Carnival, the traditional conga music, son, the predecessor of salsa, and guaguancó. Various architectural styles adorn the city, ranging from Baroque to neoclassical. Colonial buildings with large windows and packed balconies, steep streets and wooden parks make every part of Santiago a sight to behold. In addition, La Gran Piedra and Cespedes Park are some places everyone going to Santiago must visit.
The climate in Santiago is hot and humid. The city witnesses the highest number of tourists from November to April.
Baconao Park, located about 37 miles from Santiago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve in 1987.