Baracoa was originally called Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa, located in Guantánamo, the most Eastern region of Cuba. This city was founded in 1512 by Governor Diego Velásquez as the first villa of the island.The word Baracoa means in the aborigine language "Presence of the Sea" making clear reference to the fact that in its surroundings there are abundant springs and rivers such as the "Yumuri", "Duaba", "Miel" and "Toa" with the largest volume of water in the island.
Visitors to the Island get can get the feeling of colonial times, immerse in its stoned buildings -such as the colonial fortress of El Castillo and La Punta or the Joa tower and the Cemetery- and the presence of important historic traces such as the famous Cruz de La Parra, made by the Spanish with precious wood during their first trip to America. The Cross was used by Brother Bartolome de las Casas to officiate.
It is not difficult to travel Baracoa from top to bottom; walking through the promenade one can see the picturesque La Rusa Hotel, the church in the main road and the park. Incomparable sights are the Bahia de Miel and the great green plateau called Yunque de Baracoa. The city also offers an excellent native food on the basis of plants, dishes like the Bacan, a sort of green plantain stew, the ajiaco (a spicy dish with vegetables) or fish cocked with coconut milk. They also have delicious deserts like the Cucurucho, made with coconut and pineapple and packed in palm tree leafs in conic shape, or the famous chocolate prepared with the cocoa that grows in the area.
Considered by many as one of the most attractive cities of the country, Baracoa preserves another incomparable treasure: its music.
As part of the so-called Complejo del Son there is a variant with very well defined roots in Baracoa called the Nengon, a rhythm that has its history linked to the formation process of the Cuban nationality in which there is a fundamental involvement of African and European elements. It should be stressed that the instrument called "tres", descendant of the Spanish guitar, is of great importance in the Nengon, created in the area of Baracoa according to the great Cuban troubadour Sindo Garay. The Nengon, closely related to the Cuban folk song and to other Hispanic features such as the Tenth and the Regina quatrain, is danced in couples accompanied by the Tres, guitar, marimba, bongo and other instruments.
The heart of Nengon is found in the "El Guirito" area in Baracoa, where old peasants and their descendants preserve the music, dance and fiesta, as a whole one of the most authentic expressions of the Cuban popular music.
The Cuban poet and troubadour Lazaro Garcia when summarizing the attributes of this City and its music he said:
"Baracoa is the essence, not only for prizewinning, but for its fresh remoteness, its landscape touched by the old green that guards its waters and its men are like honey contributing with their sweat advising heaven and the harvest.
Perhaps that is why this music is born more of dreams than of schools, and these voices are heard like a sweet miracle of seeds, that amasses the blood, saving it in its intact and bright flower."