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Santiago De Cuba Travel Guide, Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is Cuba’s second largest city after Havana, its capital and the capital of the province bearing the same name. Its location on the seaside makes it a scenic sight while the people who live in it make it lively and vibrant.

Its population is a colorful mix of different ethnic groups most of whom are Afro-Cuban. They love music, and the simple pleasure in life but they are also though and determined when it comes to defending their property that is their country. Their loveliness and joyfulness combines with a strong character that helped them fight in the Cuban war of independence gaining the recognition of heroes. They are not all work or all play, they know how to share and divide things to keep life in a right balance.

Great musicians as well as great revolutionaries were born here and make their home city well known all over the country and worldwide.

A city is actually brought to life by its people even if its landmarks are buildings or natural sight, they are the heart and soul of the city and if you get to know them you’ll get to know the city and how it came to be what it is today.

Just as humans are divided into energetic and quiet so the city is divided into places where action is on all daylong and quiet neighborhoods. Experiencing both types is part of getting to know the city.

Santiago de Cuba is vibrant, exotic, historic, cultural, picturesque, lively, joyous, in a word beautiful in all aspects.

The first settlers found the setting excellent for establishing what was to be for many years Cuba’s first capital. This happened in the early 16th century and the settlement was among the first settlements in the area. Signs of the past can still be seen in the historic centre of the city where you can also see the Velasquez villa the first settlers were Spanish but soon French and Africans came to add to the cultural mixture of the place.

So today celebrations and festivals are deeply rooted in the African and Spanish traditions. During the carnival held in July all traditions come to life and people from all over the country come to celebrate.

Having the same feel of a big capital city with all the hassle, traffic jams and chaos, Santiago de Cuba also has its quiet spots, oasis of tranquility and places where you can be in the middle of nature. The combination sea-mountain is beautiful and the city is placed on different levels this diversity being also reflected in the culture and architecture that ranges from baroque to neoclassical.

A drop of old and new architecture can be tasted if you visit Parque Cespedes that hosts the Velazquez villa, a baroque cathedral, Casa Granada and the Town Hall called Ayuntamiento dating 1515. It is still elegant and the renovation in the 50s freshened it up a bit. The imposing cathedral called Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción is a newer construction dating from the 19th century as the previous ones were destroyed by both men and natural phenomena. Here you can see the place where Diego Velasques was buried.

Outdoors lovers have great opportunities to explore the area and choose from a number of activities like mountain climbing, hiking while the Bay of Santiago is a pleasant place to watch ships and yachts go by or even go on a boat trip around the bay.

It might not be as sparkling as the capital city Havana, but Santiago is appreciated exactly for not being polished for touristic purposes, it is much more natural and reflects Cuban life at its best.

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