Santiago de Cuba is the birthplace of the Revolution and the country’s second largest city with a colonial past and a wealth of experiences to be had. If you would like to really immerse yourself in the secret life of Santiago, take a note of our recommendations.
In the streets and mountains of Santiago de Cuba, you will find many important sites from Cuba’s rich history. The Cuartel Moncada, Padre Pico, the Ayuntamiento and the Sierra Maestra were all witness to the most recent struggle for Cuban independence. The Bacardí Museum, the Casa de Diego Velázquez and the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia all hold vestiges of the Cuban national uprising. A significant part of the country’s history resides in Santiago de Cuba.
The Gran Piedra is perfect for those who love a good legend. Its origin tells the story of a meteorite impact millions of years ago, as well as the explosion of an underground volcano. Whatever its origins, this enormous rock, weighing approximately 63,000 tonnes, is located at the very top of a mountain at more than 1,000 metres above sea level. It can be accessed by a stairway of 452 steps and represents an excellent way to admire the lush surrounding vegetation of ferns, orchids and other local species.
Santiago de Cuba throbs to the beat of Cuban rhythms. La Vieja Trova Santiaguera has lived through past eras and continues to be a venue with a cult following with never-ending stories told through the night between shots of rum with new Cuban friends. The beat of the Santiago conga spurs hundreds of people into a kind of mass hysteria in which letting go is synonymous with entertainment and culture.
Rum, in all its guises, features heavily in the Cuban world. The liquid memories of the island of Cuba make for hundreds of anecdotes, traditions and stories, with rum ever present. Sampling the varieties on offer in Santiago de Cuba means trying Bodega Don Pancho and the legendary Ron Ligero Cubano, among other treasures essential for any visitor.
History lovers know all about the heart-breaking national treasures held by the waters of Santiago de Cuba. There are several shipwrecks to discover, such as the Escuadra de Operaciones de las Antillas and the remains of the Almirante Cervera fleet. Take a trip out to sea surrounded by military history.