EXPLORE SANTIAGO DE CUBA
Santiago de Cuba, second largest city in Cuba, is on the other end of the Cuban isle from Havana and served historically as it also does today as an important port on a bay connected to the Caribbean.
Santiago de Cuba was the fifth village founded by Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar on July 25, 1515. The following year, the settlement was destroyed by fire, but was immediately rebuilt. From 1522 until 1589 Santiago was the capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba. The city experienced an influx of French and British immigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many coming from Haiti after the Haitian slave revolt of 1791. The multicultural inflow of immigrants added to the city's diversity. Santiago de Cuba was also the location where Spanish troops faced their biggest defeat in the Spanish–American War of 1898.
Santiago de Cuba is well known for its traditional dances, notably Son, from which Salsa is derived, along with Guaguancó, which is accompanied only by percussion. The city is also known for its extravagant Carnival celebration in July. A large number of Santiago dweller practice Afro-Cuban religions, notably Santería which is derived from the Haitian “voodoo”.
Visitors to the City will enjoy the variety of its architectural styles from Baroque to Neoclassical. Of special interest are Santiago’s wooded parks, its steep streets, and colonial buildings with huge windows and crowded balconies. Santiago boasts the very first Western home in the Americas, the first cathedral in Cuba, the first copper mine in the Americans (Cobre Mine) as well as Cuba’s first museum. The local citadel of San Pedro de la Roca is on the UNESCO World Heritage sites, was built on the basis of Italian and Renaissance design principles, and is touted as the world’s most complete and best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture.
Nature abounds on day and overnight trips from the base of Santiago de Cuba, principally to world class beaches, undulating verdant hills and to the amazing nature of the Baracoa that is highlighted in a companion post on Cuba Travel Adventures Group’s website.