There really is a lot to see in Cuba. Even though Havana is not to be missed, it’s not the only place to visit. One of the reasons one comes to the island is probably the legacy of Che Guevara, the famous guerrilla leader who helped belated president Fidel Castro carry out the revolution. So, don’t go to the beach today but head out to Trinidad and Santa Clara!
Cienfuegos and its teatro
This tour was so rewarding. We went to the Central Cuba and one of the stops was Cienfuegos. The town was founded in 1819 by Catholic settlers from the former French colonies of Haiti and Louisiana. The gulf was actually discovered by Columbus in 1494. Here at the Parque Marti you will find the only triumphal arch in Cuba, commissioned in 1902 to celebrate the Republic. Also, the Teatro Tomas Terry is hard to be missed, the one that was built in the 19th century to fulfill the last will and testament of the sugar factory owner.
On the other side of the Park there is the Museo Provincial building, that was once the Casino Espanol. Its furniture, marble objects, crystal and porcelain collections, bear witness to the wealth of the 19th century families in the town. There’s also Palacio Ferrer built at the beginning of the 1900s. This is where Enrico Caruso stayed when he performed at the Teatro Tomas Terry.
Trinidad, walk through time
One town that truly takes you on a trip through time is Trinidad. Even though the town was founded in the 16th century, a lot of people left few centuries later due to poor economy. It was also somewhat isolated because the railway that went throughout Cuba was not introduced here until 1919. Roads to Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus were only laid out in the 1950’s. That is the main reason why the town stayed the same, like time has stopped. It was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
So, just imagine strolling along cobblestone streets, passing by pastel-colored houses. There is Plaza Mayor. On one side of the Plaza, Museo de Arquitectura Colonial in beautiful restored old mansion. On the other – Museo Romantico, with a collection of furniture and items from another era. It’s possible to go inside and admire not only the luxurious rooms, but also the whole town from its terraces.
You will notice how charming windows and doors are in this town, rich in wrought-iron ornamental motifs and with wooden shutters. The town is also recognizable by the bell-tower of the Monastery of San Francisco. It’s also easy to come across local cocktail bars and small tavernas with live music, the so-called Casas de la Trova.
Mausoleum of Che Guevara
Another town was part of the tour – Santa Clara. It became especially famous because of the event in 1958. Here is where the last battle of the guerrilla war led by Che Guevara took place, and it is now known to be “the city of the heroic guerrilla”. So, the place to visit here is the Memorial “Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara”.
The monument of Che was built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the battle of Santa Clara in 1988. The complex comprises a museum and the mausoleum of Che. Here, you will find his personal belongings – uniform, watch, pipe, container for mate tea, his beret, jacket. Che’s body was transferred here in 1997, 30 years after he was arrested and killed in Bolivia when he was 39.
Besides Fidel Castro, this Argentinian by birth was the central figure in Cuban Revolution. (Castro’s urn was placed in the Mausoleum at the end of the 2016.) Known to be persistent, well educated, with great sense of humor, Che still motivates people all around the globe with his ideology.
Couldn’t imagine how Cubans really cherished his legacy and after I came back from the island, I read all I could find about Ernesto Guevara, I’ve seen so many black and white photos, listened to so many interviews he did… And now I respect him even more.