Santiago de Cuba, Cuba: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

Situated on the southeastern end of the island, Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago de Cuba, prides itself with an enigmatic and unique charm. The city’s architecture is singular and its inhabitants have developed their own music and dance styles. Among its primary allures number multiple museums, imposing monuments and a stunning cemetery. Santiago de Cuba is also the place where Fidel Castro started his revolution in July 1953, with a failed attack on the Moncada barracks, and with the wonderful Sierra Maestra range standing just to the west, there is also plenty to see outside and around the city.

Accommodation options in Santiago de Cuba include a good number of hotels and private home stays, while getting around is not difficult.

After the city’s foundation in 1515 by Diego Velazquez, the original setting was declared the capital of Cuba, and thrived thanks to naval trade and the copper mines of El Cobre. However, in 1553 the capital was moved to the flourishing city of Havana. In 1639 Santiago de Cuba was fortified and became an important port for African slaves. During the wars for independence the city has seen some fierce battles, like on July 1898, when the Mambi and American armies ended the 400 year Spanish dominance, by destroying the Spanish fleet.

Today Santiago de Cuba divides opinions among locals and foreigners. Some regard it as a hot aggravating city full of hassle and hustlers, while others see it as a cultural capital that has played a vital part in Cuba history. The city’s mix of Afro-Caribbean culture and position close to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, have created a colorful mix of people seen nowhere else in Cuba. This unique culture results in a good variety of entertainment venues and activities, on top of all the historic landmarks.