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Santiago de Cuba - City


Santiago de Cuba (ca. 500' innbyggere) er hovedstaden i provinsen Santiago de Cuba, og ligger i det sørøstlige hjørnet på Cuba (se kart nedenfor), 884 kilometer fra hovedstaden Havana.

Santiago de Cuba dekker et område på 1024 km² og har innenfor sitt område kommunene Antonio Maceo, Bravo, Castillo Duany, El Caney, Guilera, Leyte Vidal og Moncada.

Denne byen har lenge vært den nest viktigste byen på Cuba etter Havana, og fremdeles er den størst, og er en viktig havneby.

Castillo del Morro

Santiago de Cuba ble grunnlagt av spanske Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar 28. juni i 1514. I 1516 ble nesten hele bebyggelsen brannherjet, men ble omgående gjenreist. Dette var utgangspunktet for ekspedisjoner som ble ledet av Juan de Grijalba og Hernán Cortes til kysten av Mexico i årene 1518, og i 1538 av Hernando de Soto 's ekspedisjon som gikk til Florida. Den første katedralen i byen ble reist i 1528. Fra 1522 til 1589 Santiago ble hovedstad i den spanske kolonien av Cuba. Videre i historisk sammenheng ble byen i 1553 plyndret av franske styrker, etterfulgt i 1662 av britiske styrker under ledelse av Christopher Myngs.

I slutten av det attende, og i begynnelsen av det nittende-århundre opplevde Santiago de Cuba en stor tilstrømning av franske innvandrere. En stor del av disse kom "via" Haiti. Som en naturlig følge av denne invandring har byen en variert og rik kultur.

Santiago de Cuba var også oppholdstedet til revolusjonshelten Frank Pais. En sen julidag i  1953 startet den cubanske revolusjonen med et væpnet angrep på Moncada kaserner ledet av Fidel Castro.

The Cathedral  of Santiago (Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción)

Sommeren 1955 innledet organisasjonen til Pais et nært og viktig samarbeid med Castro. Dette førte til at País ble leder for den nye organisasjonen i Oriente-provinsen .

1. januar 1959 proklamerte Fidel Castro seier av den cubanske revolusjonen fra en balkong i Santiago de Cuba's city hall.

Provins endringer

Inntil et "rearrangement" av provinsinndelingen i landet i 1976 var Santiago de Cuba provinshovedstad i den tidligere Cubanske provinsen Oriente som den gang innkluderte de nåværende provinsene Holguín, Las Tunas, Guantánamo, Granma og Santiago de Cuba.


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Santiago Festivals




The feast more representative in Santiago de Cuba is without doubt the Carnival, which is not celebrated in the pre-Lenten period (February or March) such as at the rest of the world. Here the carnival is celebrated in July when in Cuba it is summer.
Nevertheless the carnival was brought to Cuba by Spanish colonists and at the beginning it was celebrated in winter, but the actual feast began to celebrate in the XVII century and it is related with the religious holidays of St. John (June 24th), St. Peter (June 29th), St. Christine(July 25th), St. James Apostle the patron of the city (July 25) and St. Anne(July 26).



Since that time the feast also has been called “Fiesta de los Mamarrachos” (party of crazies) and it was a good excuse to dance and drink large quantities of alcohol. In that time the feast was supported mainly by black slaves who found in the carnival a perfect excuse to enjoy few days of happiness. Then the white men of Santiago began to call to the carnival  Fiesta de los Mamarrachos” because of  the participation of the black people. In the XIX century the carnival of Santiago was already the main feast of the city and many of the actual traditions like eating “ajiaco”, “empanadas”, “roast pork” or wearing costumes and masks were already installed.


Now the parades and the street performance of “Comparsas” (groups of dancers and musicians) are the main traditions of the Carnival. Although today the samba and others features of the Brazilian Carnival have influenced so much the Santiago’s Carnival. Then it is common to see beautiful girls with tiny garments dancing in the streets such as the carnival of Rio de Janeiro. Nevertheless American traditions like the Mardi Grass and Spring break also have influenced the feast, but the Cuban flavor continues  to be the trademark of this carnival.


The carnival lasts three days (officially) and it serves also to commemorate the beginning of the revolution on July 26. During this time you can see since traditional “barrio congas” and “masked devils” until rock concerts, in addition to colored costumes and representations of  Orishas (Gods of African descent). The main activities of the carnival are organized along “Jesús Mendez” and “Victoriano Garzón ” avenues.




Fiesta del Fuego (Fire Festival)


This is a festival in honor to “Caribbean Culture” which is a prelude of the carnival. The fire feast usually is celebrated the first week of July. Every year the feast is dedicated to a Caribbean country, so artists from this nation travel to Santiago and present their show in the feast. The feast offers a great variety of entertainment like traditional bands and music, sound systems playing, processions of decorated cars amongst others. During this feast the entire city seems as a big dance party.


Others festivals are:


* Festival de Rumba (mid January)

* Day of St. John (on June 24th)

* Festival Bolero de Oro (a music festival after carnival)


Museum of Santiago de Cuba (Emilio Bacardi)


This is one of the most ancient museums in the Island, now it is called “museum Emilio Bacardí” in honor to a famous industrialist who was associated mainly with the Rum industry and whom the museum owes many of its collections since this man was who bought the most part of museum’s pieces.


The museum has a important hall of archaeology which saves many pieces of famous and ancient cultures mainly from South America and Egypt. The highlights in this hall are the mummies of the Peruvian culture Paracas and the Egyptian mummy (it belong to a women and it is almost two thousand years old) which were brought from Luxor (former Thebes and Capital of ancient Egypt) by Emilio Bacardi himself.


The museum also owns a very important and complete collection of colonial paintings as well as several historical objects used in the Independence war like a torpedo which was used against the Spanish in the XIX century.

The museum is located at “Pio Rosado” street and opens from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 18:00 and Sundays from 9:00 to 13:00.




Museum Antonio Maceo


This building is completely dedicated to Antonio Maceo the greatest hero of the Cuban Independence War and was constructed during the first third of the XIX century. The house has a simple style; its walls are made of twigs covered with lime and sand. This place was the site in where Maceo was born on June 14, 1845 and now saves several objects which belonged to Maceo and pictures of his feats.


Antonio Maceo fought against the Spanish between 1868 and 1895 and his most prominent interventions are “the Baragua Protest” where he refused to surrender after 10 years of war and the “East to West invasion” this last is one of the greatest military feats in the Cuban history. Finally Maceo was killed in 1895 just before the final battle against the Spanish troops when he was 51 years old and had dedicated 32 years of his life to the Cuban Independence.


The museum is situated at 207 “Los Maceo” street and opens from Monday to Saturday between 8:00 and 18:30. Besides, the Antonio Maceo museum you can visit also the monument in honor to Antonio Maceo which is a impressive sculpture, perhaps the most beautiful in the city.




Rum Museum


It works in the former house of Mariano Gomez who was treasurer of the company Bacardí , the enterprise that produces the famous rum which has the same name. Its halls tell us the history of the Sugar industry in Cuba as well as the invention and evolution of the rum. Besides, the museum owns a impressive collection of Barrels of aging, bottles and labels. The place is located at 358 “San Basilio” street.




Carnival Museum


The halls of this museum are whole dedicated to the Santiago de Cuba’s   Carnival history. The museum owns a beautiful collection of costumes, musical instruments and photos related with the Carnival feast, the more important festival in Cuba




Piracy Museum


The museum works inside the famous Morro Castle and is dedicated to the Piracy history in Cuba. The place of the museum is absolutely ideal since this place was constructed in XVII century to defend the city against the pirates.
The museum has several samples of piracy attacks that happened in Santiago de Cuba like the attack did by the French pirate Jacques de Sores who attacked the city in the XVI century with 4 ships and took 80000 gold pieces. The museum opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00 to 18:00.


Siboney Farm


This national monument was the point which was used by Castro and his men to hide the night before the attack to Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953. The fact that marked the start of the Cuban revolution. This farm is located at the outskirts of the city at Km 13.5 “Siboney” road and saves a collection of objects and documents related to these events. You can sit this place from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00.


Isabelica Museum


It is located in a former French Coffee Plantation to east of the city, in where usually worked landowners from Haiti. This beautiful house owns a collection of furniture, farming implements and some archaeological objects that were found in the zone. Besides, it is a great location because usually there is a good weather and a wonderful view of the “Sierra Maestra”(the biggest peaks range in Cuba). It is situated at Km 14 “la Gran Piedra “road and you can visit this place from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00.


Santiago de Cuba Nightlife


Talking about Cuba is talking about nightlife and obviously Santiago is not the exception. Santiago has a very agitated night on which music and joy always are present.


There are a great number of nightclubs and bars, where you can dance to the beat of delicious Cuban music or only hear the beautiful Cuban “Trova” of famous singers like Pablo Milanes, Aute or  the great “Silvio Rodriguez” the greatest icon of the Cuban Music after the revolution.




One of these wonderful places is without doubt “La casa de la Trova” (Trova’s house) where you can hear the best selection of the Cuban music within the walls of this legendary live music venue, which is a meeting place for Cuban music lovers. In this local usually play  great Cuban musicians like Buena Vista Social Club or Eliades Ochoa. Besides, the house has a nice view from the balcony on the street life at night. This place is situated at 304 “Heredia” street between “Pío Rosado” and “Porfirio Valiente”. Admission costs $1 same as drinks. It is a great place for to take a “Mojito”.



But if you prefer a environment more intimate, you could go to “Casa de las Tradiciones” (Traditions’ house) in the “Tivoli” district also known as “La Casona” by Santiago citizen. There the walls are decorated with many paintings and photos. This local also has a nice dance floor. Don’t worry if you don’t know to dance, the persistent Cubans without doubt will teach you. "La Casa de las Tradiciones” is located at 154 "Rab"i street and you can pay $1 for entry.

The “Tropicana” of Santiago (National Highway Km 1.5) is another exciting place in where to spend the night. This cabaret is less expensive than the “Tropicana” of La Havana and presents a similar Show, here admission costs $35. Nevertheless there are several others cabarets cheaper than it like “San Pedro del Mar”; there admission only costs $10 for a couple or Santiago Café where the cover is just $5.

Other nice places in Santiago are:


* La Casa del Caribe

* Club 300

* Discoteca la Iris

* Patio de ARTEX

* Patio de los Dos Abuelos

* La Claqueta


Transport in Santiago de Cuba


There are many ways to arrive to Santiago, the most comfortable and fastest is flying. Traveling from La Havana to Santiago by plane costs $100 approximately and there are several airlines which do this route like “Cubana de Aviación” (this airline fly 3 times per day from Havana to Santiago) or “AeroCaribbean”. The trip lasts almost two hours. But also it is possible to fly directly from some European countries to Santiago airport (“Antonio Maceo International Airport”) mainly in summer and also there several flights from Santo Domingo as well as some charter flights.




Another way is by car, but there are many options like bus, taxi, rent a car or traveling by trucks. If you decides to travel by bus, the “Viazul” bus is a good option, the buses are very comfortable since they have air-conditioned. The trip lasts 16 hours approximately and it costs $51. Nevertheless usually this service is used only by tourists and privileged Cubans, the local people do the trip by “Astro” which is a company of buses cheaper than “Viazul” (it costs just $4) or by truck that is still cheaper but also more dangerous and uncomfortable. The buses “Viazul” leave from Havana to Santiago three times per day at 09:30, 15:00 and 18:15 and arrive at 01:35, 06:50 and 07:15 respectively.


Rent a car in Cuba cost around $15 per day, the advantage of this option is that you can go everywhere. But you must bring the car back the day that you said because you must pay a charge double for each day past the return date of the contract.
The train is other way, by train the trip lasts around 14 hours. It costs between $30.50 and $50; it depend if you travel in special class or first class. It is cheaper than “Viazul” buses; besides, the wagons have air-conditioned. You usually have to pay with American dollars in the stations of "FerroCuba" the company that manages the trains in Cuba.


The Santiago de Cuba city is not very large, and then you can go almost anywhere walking. Only there are two places which are far away and they are the” Morro Castle” and the beach. You can arrive to these places by truck, but it is very hard and packet thought also very cheaper (it costs only 1 Cuban peso). Anotherr way is to take a taxi which bring you to the castle for $8 including return with the driver waiting for you there until for two hours. To the beach by taxi costs between $16 and $20, it depends if you know how make business, the tariff includes return.




There are two options more, which are rent a car (around $15 per day ) or rent a bike(around $2 per day). Both have very reasonable prices and they allow you to move more freely.


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