The best attractions of Santa Clara
Being the capital city of the province of Villa Clara, Santa Clara is located in the most central region of the province and almost in the most central region of the country. The city was founded by 175 people on the 15th of July, 1689. The almost central position of Santa Clara made it a perfect halt and a great communication link, east-west and north-south, resulting a slow but constant growth. By the 19th century, the town was bigger and more populated than the rest of the surrounding towns. As a result, the city gained the title of the capital of Las Villas Province. Today, Santa Clara is a lovely and attractive town. It is home to numerous attractions, such as parks, monuments and museums. In the following article, there will be presented the best attractions of Santa Clara which make it worth visiting.
Monuments and buildings
The city is home to numerous spectacular eclectic buildings. The best-known attraction in town is the Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara which can be found on the Plaza de la Revolución Che Guevara, in the western part of the city. The monument features a huge sculpture of the revolutionary hero which overlooks the square where massive demonstrations and music concerts are often held. There is also a museum with exhibits detailing the life and exploits of Ernesto Che Guevara and a mausoleum holding his remains. This place is deeply revered by most Cubans. The monument is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 to 17:30. (July 2012) Another popular revolutionary landmark of Santa Clara is the Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado (Armored Train Monument). The City Hall is a spectacular building which today houses the Marti Library. The Teatro la Caridad is an active and ornate 19th century theatre, modeled after the Paris Opera.
Parks and museums
There are several wonderful parks in the city, such as the Parque del Carmen which is actually the City’s Foundation Site, the Parque de los Martires (Martyrs Park), the Parque de la Pastora (Our Lady Shepherdess Park), the Parque de la Justicia (Justice’s Park), the Parque Vidal and the Parque del Tren blindado (The Armored Train Park-Museum) which is a National Monument of Cuba. The Parque del Carmen is a small park centered by Saint Carmen’s Church, a colonial building, in front of which there is a monument surrounding a Tamarind tree indicating the foundation of Santa Clara. Located only a few minutes from the Parque del Carmen, the Parque de los Martires presents several attractions. In the center of it there is a column in honor of those who died in the Independence War. The Railway Station located here is a spectacular example of colonial architecture. The statue of Jose Marti is also located in this park. The Museo de Artes Decorativas is located in the Parque Vidal. It is housed in an 18th century building. The house includes gorgeous Baccarat crystals and chandeliers, including a “spaghetti” chandelier. Its other unusual item is a rocking chair with a carved protruding face. It is open Monday to Thursday 9:00 to noon, Friday 13:00 to 18:00, Saturday 13:00 to 18:00 and 19:00 to 22:00, and Sunday 18:00 to 22:00. (July 2012)
The Saint Claire of Assisi Cathedral
The cathedral is the most important religious building in Santa Clara. It was built in 1923, in Neo Gothic style, after the demolishing of the original one in Parque Vidal. The cathedral guards a spectacular collection of stained glass windows, the original holy water basin used to baptize the citizens since the foundation of the city, the statue of Jesus which is considered to be made of pure gold. The most impressive piece of art is the statue of Virgin Mary, locally known as “la Virgen del camino” (Travelers’ Virgin).
The Loma del Capiro Hill
Loma del Caprio is a group of three small peaks. With an altitude about 176 m, the smallest peak holds the name of Capiro and next to it, with about 186 and 188 meters tall are the twin peaks known as Dos Hermanas (Two sisters). There is a monument standing on the smallest peak commemorating the battle of Santa Clara. The hill provides spectacular views of the city. The flora of the hill includes endemic plants and a plantation of Santa Clara’s tree, the tamarind. There was built a staircase in order to reach the top of the hill, thus it is easily accessible for any visitor.