The best sights in Santiago de Cuba

photo by Effervescing Elephant

If you’ve had your fill of the Cuban capital, maybe it’s time to move on to the second largest city on the island, Santiago de Cuba, the cultural and artistic center of the country. If you are interested in Cuban literature, art, architecture and history, then spending a few days in Santiago de Cuba will definitely make your holiday much more entertaining. Despite its poignant colonial past, Santiago de Cuba bear the influence of its Afro-Caribbean neighbors, resulting in a unique mix of cultures. The slightly run-down but atmospheric historical center and the modern buildings built after the 90′s give this compact city a cosmopolitan air that will  make you want to prolong your stay.Here are the best sights in Santiago de Cuba for those who want to see more of this city.

Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca

A few kilometers from the city center stands the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, one of the foremost landmarks of the city, overlooking the bay. The fort was designed by an Italian architect at the request of the city’s governor in order to protect it from pirate attacks. When the fear of pirate attacks subsided, parts of the fort were converted into a prison, and in 1997 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre

photo by Richard Weil

The National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Charity is rather small compared to its long name, but it is a very charming church and one of the best sights in Santiago de Cuba despite its size. The little Roman Catholic church was built in the 1920′s and it is linked to the rest of the city through a flight of over 250 stairs!

Cementerio de Santa Ifigenia

If you like cemeteries that look more like outdoor sculpture parks, then you will definitely like the Cementerio de Santa Ifigenia, which is second in grandiosity only to Havana’s Cristobal Colon cemetery. This peaceful cemetery on the western outskirts of the city is filled to the brim with intricately decorated mausoleums and gravestones, and it is the final resting places of many important historical figures, the victims of the War of Independence, and victims of a huge yellow fever outbreak.

Museo Provincial Bacardi Moreau

Castillo de San Pedro del Morro, photo by Adam Jones

The Museo Provincial Bacardi Moreau  is the second oldest institution in Cuba, and it was personally established by Cuba’s former and now disgraced president Emilio Bacardi Moreau. You can see Cuban and foreign artworks on display, antiquities and even mummies brought from Egypt.


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