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8 Cultural And Natural Heritage Sites To See in Cuba

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8 Cultural And Natural Heritage Sites To See in Cuba

Date: Sep 28, 2022
Author: Collins.cidar 613 No Comments

A Tourist paradise located at the intersection of the Northern Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Cuba is the home for vacation destination in the world. Havana, the largest city in the country, is the most visited destination in the country. With over 5 million visits yearly, the Cuban capital is an eco-friendly tourism hub and sustainable travel.

The official language is Spanish. Other languages will include Haitian Creole and English, which is widely spoken by over 50% of the country. Its culture is influenced by its melting pot of cultures, primarily those of Spain, Africa and the indigenous Tainos of Cuba. It is a multi-ethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins. One can simply say “lose yourself” in Cuba and enjoy the limitless adventure. With many beaches to choose from along the coast, tourist can gravitate and enjoy themselves under the Caribbean sun.

UNESCO world heritage sites are places of importance on culture or natural heritage, as described in the UNESCO world Heritage Convention established in 1972. Tourists can choose from the wide range of selections to visit and definite preference is the Old Havana and its Fortifications; Founded in 1519 by Spanish colonists, it grew to become one of the Caribbean’s shipbuilding centers. By the 17th century. Many of the old structures are still standing still on date. One can decide to take a work through history and understand the very mind-set of the “then” generation.

Another definite to visit will be the Desembarco del Granma National park; with its unique karst landscape with features such as terrace, cliffs and waterfalls, visitors can relax at the time dive into history as they witness Cuban ecology. With a wide range of species, visitors can explore the eco-friendly sceneries of one of Cuba’s largest parks. Regenerative travel is once again achievable in this Caribbean nation as innovation is put in place to attract foreigners and holiday lovers into this paradise. What we have below are list of place to give you that splendid experience you have always desire.

Historic Center of Camagüey

Historic Center of Camagüey/Photographer: Robyn Smith/Flickr

One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, Camagüey played a prominent role as the urban center of an inland territory devoted to cattle breeding and the sugar industry. Once settled in its present location in 1528, the city developed on the basis of an irregular urban layout which includes a system of squares and squares, winding streets and alleys and irregular blocks of houses, very exceptional in the colonial cities of Latin America located in the plain. The religious buildings, associated with the main squares, mark a system of landmarks in the urban fabric, characterized by its homogeneity. Architectural values ​​are associated with typical residential architecture typologies and the consistent use of building materials and techniques, in particular the frequent use of earthen elements, which reveal the influences of Andalusia. The use of truncated pilasters at the entrances to houses and earthen containers for storing water are characteristics that distinguish the residential architecture of Camagüey. The historic center continues to fulfill its role as the heart of the city. It is the site of cultural and social activities which reflect a rich intangible heritage.

Urban Historic Center of Cienfuegos

Urban Historic Center of Cienfuegos/Photographer: Dan Lundberg/Flickr

Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 on the Caribbean coast in the south central region of Cuba. Although located in Spanish territory, many of its first settlers were of French origin, coming from Bordeaux and French colonies such as Louisiana. Port and commercial city, located in the heart of a fertile agricultural region producing sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee, its prosperity is mainly linked to the sugar boom of the 19th century. In the 1860s, Cienfuegos was Cuba’s third largest city for economic wealth.

The original center of the city is made up of twenty-five blocks of houses, according to a checkerboard plan of absolute geometric regularity, inspired by the Spanish Age of Enlightenment. This planned city exemplifies modern Spanish American urban planning, and reflects new socio-economic and cultural trends related to urban order, the role of public spaces and the need for natural lighting and ventilation to support the environment. ‘public health.

Public activities were concentrated in the Parque José Martí (the old Plaza de Armas), the site of the church as well as public and government buildings. Among the neoclassical buildings of the 19th century, we should mention the Santa Iglesia Catedral de la Purísima Concepción (the Cathedral of the Holy Church of Pure Concepción), the Tomás Terry Theatre, the Spanish Casino, the Palatine Tavern (or White Palace), the Lions House, “The Union” Hotel, the house-warehouse of the Spanish trader José García de la Noceda, and the customs building.

Buildings dating from the early 20th century are more eclectic in design but retain certain proportions, construction materials and stylistic features creating an overall harmony. Residential buildings, for example, have one or two floors, with simple facades, usually without porches. Steel ironwork forged and molded by master craftsmen elegantly adorns the gates, ramps and fences.

The registered historic center covers 70 ha surrounded by a buffer zone of 105 ha which extends towards the eastern part of the port.

Castle of San Pedro de la Roca, Santiago de Cuba

Castle of San Pedro de la Roca, Santiago de Cuba/Photographer:

The Castle of San Pedro de la Roca, a multi-level stone fortress built on a rocky promontory ( El Morro) at the southeastern end of the island of Cuba, has guarded the entrance to the bay and port of Santiago de Cuba since 1638. This exceptional fortress and the defensive works associated with it were built in response to aggressive commercial and political rivalries that threatened the Caribbean during the 17th and 18th centuries; today they constitute the largest and most comprehensive example of the adaptation of Renaissance military engineering principles to the imperatives of European colonial powers in the Caribbean. Classic bastion fortification where geometric shapes, symmetry and respect for the proportions between walls and angles predominate, the castle is an extraordinary representative example of the Hispano-American school of military architecture.

The castle of San Pedro de la Roca and the batteries of La Estrella, Santa Catalina and Aguadores associated with it, protect the entrance to the bay and port of San Diego de Cuba, which was of great importance due to its geographical location, its favorable currents and its protected anchorages. When the conflict between Spain and England escalated in the 17th century, the governor of the city ordered the construction of a stone fortress on a strategic point where an earlier ravelin existed, according to the plans of the famous engineer Italian military Juan Bautista (Giovanni Battista) Antonelli. The fortress was built on the steep cliffs of a promontory with a progression of terraces superimposed and connected by flights of steps. At the lower level, just above the upper tide level is a fortified gun platform, powder magazine, command building and guard post. Then there is the Santísimo Sacramento platform, which includes locations for cannons, a powder magazine and the barracks of the garrison. Above are the platforms of El Aljibe, De Adentro and Napoles. This part of the castle took on its current form during the reconstruction in the mid-18th century, when the North and South bastions were added. The Santísima Trinidad platform is the highest point of the main castle, and was built in the 1660s. To the north is La Avanzada fort, which completes the chain of smaller defensive structures below the north face from the promontory.

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park/Photographer: Mia Battaglia/ Flickr

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (PNAH) is located in the Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa Mountains on the northern coast of eastern Cuba. What remains of the largest mountainous forest ecosystem in the Caribbean, namely the PNAH, is also the best preserved. It is generally considered Cuba’s most important protected area due to its extraordinary biodiversity values. In addition to the 66,700 hectares of land area, the PNAH covers a maritime area of ​​2,641 hectares, the total area of ​​the park is therefore 69,341 hectares. A land buffer zone of 34,330 hectares completes it. The property is part of the Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve, a much larger area with an area exceeding 200,000 hectares. The minimum altitude is 220 meters below sea level, in the maritime part,

Due to its exposure to trade winds and mountainous topography, the northern coast of eastern Cuba is the rainiest and coolest region in the country. Important rivers, including the Toa River, the largest in Cuba, originate in these forest-covered mountain areas that boast remarkable freshwater biodiversity. Besides various forests populated by semi-deciduous and pine tree species types, the drier areas are composed of xenomorphic shrub formations and the coastal areas are covered with mangroves. It is assumed that during the Pleistocene era the area was a refuge for many species which survived periods of climatic changes. This helps to explain that in addition to the complex and varied geology and topography, the area is also rich in extraordinary biodiversity. Another characteristic feature of the property is the toxicity of many underground rocks to plants. It is believed that this situation has induced strong pressure for the adaptation of plants and the birth of an impressive number of often endemic plant species. To date, the PNAH is one of the most important sites in the Western Hemisphere in terms of endemic flora and one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on the planet. With many species still to be discovered, the PNAH boasts an impressive list of 145 fern species and over 1,300 seed plants (spermatophytes), of which over 900 are endemic to Cuba and over 340 locally endemic. The degree of endemism of vertebrates and invertebrates is also very important. About one-third of mammals and insects, one-fifth of birds, and a large majority of reptiles and amphibians are species unique to the island of Cuba, or even locally endemic. With regard to marine biodiversity, the Caribbean manatee deserves to be distinguished as an emblematic species.

Although historically little affected by human development and enjoying, to date, a relatively good state of conservation, the PNAH is potentially threatened by the presence on its territory of major mining deposits which constitute a for the conservation of its exceptional values. 

Desembarco del Granma National Park

Desembarco del Granma National Park/Photographer : Chris/Flickr

The Desembarco del Granma National Park (PNDG) is located at the southwestern tip of the Cuban coast and more precisely in the territory of the municipalities of Niquero and Pilon in the province of Granma. The property spans a tectonically active zone between the Caribbean and North American plates, and includes the limestone terraces of Cabo Cruz at the western end of the Sierra Maestra mountains. These terraces rise to altitudes between 180 meters below sea level and 360 meters above sea level. The total area of ​​this area is 32,576 hectares, of which 26,180 are on land and 6,396 are in the sea. In addition, the property benefits from a terrestrial buffer zone of 9,287 hectares.

The limestone marine terraces were formed by tectonic uplift and sea level fluctuations induced by previous climate change. The number and height of these terraces are as remarkable as their good state of preservation. These unmodified land and seascapes feature a wide spectrum of karst phenomena, such as giant sinkholes, cliffs, canyons and caves.

Old Havana and its system of fortifications

Founded around 1519 on the northwest coast of Cuba, the old city of Havana has managed to retain a remarkable unity of character thanks to its fidelity to its original urban plan. Urban squares surrounded by numerous buildings of exceptional architectural value and narrow streets where more popular or traditional styles rub shoulders make up the historic center of the city. Its general sense of architectural, historical and environmental continuity makes Old Havana the most impressive historic downtown in the Caribbean and one of the most remarkable in the entire American continent. With the creation and development of the system of maritime fleets in the Spanish West Indies, Havana became, in the second half of the 16th century, the largest port in the region, and developed, in the 18th century, the largest set of shipyards in the new world, both of which needed to be militarily protected. The extensive network of defensive works, which was created between the 16th and 19th centuries, includes some of the oldest and largest fortifications on the American continent.

Valley of Vinales

Valley of Vinales/ Photographer: courthouselover/Flickr

The Viñales Valley in the Sierra de los Organos , near the western tip of the island of Cuba, is an outstanding karst landscape ringed by mountains and dotted with spectacular domed limestone mounds ( mogotes) which can reach 300 m. Colonized at the beginning of the 19th century, the valley has fertile soil and a favorable climate for the development of livestock farming and the cultivation of fodder and food crops. Traditional farming techniques have survived virtually unchanged on this plain for several centuries, especially for the cultivation of tobacco. The quality of this cultural landscape is enriched by the vernacular architecture of its farms and villages, where a rich multicultural society has maintained itself, with its architecture, crafts and music illustrating the cultural development of Cuba and the islands of the Caribbean.

The karst landscape of the Viñales Valley is notable for its mogotes, a series of tall, rounded buttes that rise abruptly from the valley plain. It is also notable for its cultural elements, particularly traditional agricultural practices related to tobacco growing. As mechanical growing and harvesting results in a loss of tobacco quality, old methods remain in use, such as animal traction. The lush landscape is largely rural. Most of the constructions spread over the plain are of a modest nature, built with local natural materials and intended for housing or family farming. The village of Viñales has kept its original configuration, stretching along the main street; it has many interesting examples of colonial architecture, mostly one-story wooden houses with porches. The valley shelters an original culture, a synthesis of the contributions of the natives, the Spanish conquerors and the African slaves, who worked in the tobacco plantations. It is illustrated in particular in the musical expression of the worker (veguero ), of which Benito Hernández Cabrera (known as the Viñalero) was the main performer. Traditional craftsmanship is also rich here. Cubans identify strongly with the Viñales Valley because of the beauty of the site and its historical and cultural importance. In the field of visual arts, different artists have given the Viñales Valley an emblematic value of Caribbean landscape.

Trinidad and the Valley of Los Ingenios

Trinidad and the Valley of Los Ingenios / Photographer: Bencito the Traveller/ Flickr

Trinidad, located in the central province of Cuba called Sancti Spiritus, was founded in the early 16th century . Its existence and its historical raison d’être are due to the sugar industry which flourished in the city as well as in the neighboring valley “de los Ingenios” (the valley of the sugar factories) between the end of the 18th century and the end of the 19th _. The exemplary prosperity of the city of Trinidad during this period is most evident in its present built environment, with buildings ranging from modest vernacular variants to elaborate, luxurious buildings. The Valle de los Ingenios bears remarkable witness to the development of the sugar industry. A living museum of sugar production in Cuba, the valley includes 75 former sugar factories exploiting sugar cane, plantations and their houses, barracks for workers and other equipment related to this vulnerable industry which has experienced a slow progressive decline.

The urban ensemble of residential buildings in Trinidad has exceptional typological continuity and homogeneity in terms of plan and construction, in a vernacular style characterized by small or medium-sized lots on which the buildings of the early 18th century century, strongly marked by Andalusian and Moorish influences, blend harmoniously with constructions of the 19thcentury which marvelously blend European neoclassical forms, plated on traditional spatial models. The heart of the historic center, with an area of ​​37 hectares, is the Plaza Mayor (the Main Square) dominated by the bell tower of the Convento (Convent) of San Francisco and where the most remarkable buildings are located: the Palacio Brunet which testifies most authentically from the city’s golden age and the neoclassical Palacio Cantero which now houses the city’s history museum. In addition to its architecture, much of Trinidad’s urban fabric, including the irregular system of round and square plazas, cobbled streets and other urban and historic elements, has been preserved. 

Twelve kilometers northwest of Trinidad, three interconnected rural valleys – San Luis, Santa Rosa and Meyer – form the 225 square kilometer Valle de los Ingenios. More than fifty sugar factories were in operation there at the height of industrial activity in the 19th century . In 1827, more than 11,000 slaves worked in the sugar factories. The long and gradual decline of the Cuban sugar industry accelerated in the 1890s. and the best preserved of the Caribbean sugar agro-industrial process in the 18th and 19th centuries and the related phenomenon of slavery. 

Archaeological landscape of the first coffee plantations in southeastern Cuba

Archaeological landscape of the first coffee plantations in southeastern Cuba/ Author: Ko Hon Chiu VincentCopyright: © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent/Flickr

The first coffee plantations in southeastern Cuba constitute a cultural landscape illustrating colonial coffee production from the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century. This contains not only the architectural and archaeological remains of 171 former coffee plantations or cafetales, but also the infrastructure for irrigation and water management, and the transportation network made up of mountain roads and bridges that connected the plantations to each other and to coffee export points. The topography, dominated by the steep, steep slopes of the Sierra Maestra foothills, exemplifies the ingenuity of plantation owners (mostly of French and Haitian descent) in exploiting the natural environment through the sweat and blood of their African slaves. The inscribed property occupies a total area of ​​81,475 ha in the two provinces of Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba. The large Sierra Maestra National Park encompasses the area of ​​the inscribed property located in Santiago de Cuba.

The plantations show various states of preservation ranging from the restored planter’s house in La Isabelica, to the ruins of plantations which are only archaeological sites. Typical plantations include the planter’s house, the drying terrace, production areas for milling and roasting, and slave quarters. Other outbuildings, such as workshops, are found on larger plantations. The wet pulping coffee processing system, developed exclusively by the French in this area, required a specific hydraulic infrastructure of cisterns, aqueducts and viaducts that are still visible in the landscape. 

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