Santa Clara, Cuba: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

Santa Clara, capital of the Villa Clara province, is an important industrial and university town. The city stands in the center of Cuba and has a population near a quarter million. Santa Clara’s recent history is closely tied to Che Guevara, who led the final battle against the Batista regime, right in the city, with resounding success.

Getting around Santa Clara is easy, since taxis are cheap and plentiful. There are scores of casas particulars, most within close proximity to Parque Vidal or Plaza del Carmen, so finding a place to stay is easy.

Situated 170 miles east of Havana, Santa Clara was founded in 1689, when some of the inhabitants of the nearby town of Remedios decided to seek refuge from pirate attacks and the Insurrection. In the beginning, the city went through several names, like Cayo Nuevo, Dos Cayos, Pueblo Nuevo de Antón Díaz, until finally becoming Santa Clara. The city’s position, almost in the center of the island, made it a good stop and perfect communication link between north-south and east-west. Thus by the 19th century the city was bigger and more populated then its neighboring towns, including Remedios. During the independence wars, Santa Clara witnessed some bloody battles. Later on, in 1958 the city was a stage to the final battle that removed General Batista from power.

Santa Clara is a city of insatiable creativity and new trends, where the edgy youth culture has been testing the limits of Cuba’s censorship police for years. Among its unique offerings we count Cuba’s best rock festival, Ciudad Metal and the country’s only official drag show. The city’s main attractions include a number of lovely churches and museums, as well as numerous monuments dedicated to Ernesto Che Guevara. Santa Clara’s nightlife features many good bars, cafes, restaurants and cultural venues, while venturing outside the city visitors will find numerous interesting towns and the Cienaga de Zapata National Park.