When you speak about hospitality in Cuba, one always thinks in Santiago. There is happiness in Santiago, good friends and the willingness to kindly welcome visitors that want to discover the secrets of this Caribbean Island. Cradle of El Son and of outstanding Soneros, this land is favorite for its music and rhythm for immemorial times.
The people of Santiago are always joking and are also fiesta-lovers which is the ideal for unplanned and endless celebrations and their joyful temperament is the result of the African and Spanish inheritance form their ancestors and a little touch from the Antilles given their geography.
Founded on July 25, 1915, Santiago was one of the seven villas established in Cuba by the Governor Diego Velasquez. Since its creation it became the capital of the Island before this condition was definitively given to Havana.
The Past and Present are combined in Santiagoas was done by the different cultures that gave origin to this enchanted land. For centuries of remote wakefulness, the ancient constructions made conspiratorial wink to the new city that emerged in the Villa seeing the conquest revived and at the same time gaining space for its history. A city of memories and revolutionary struggles, Santiago is by tradition, the Heroic City of Cuba.
One day in Santiago...
Visiting Santiago revives the spirit. Customs, history, nature, religion, gathering, dance and jubilation merge together making the traveler an accomplice to that indissoluble mixture that makes up the vitality of the Santiagueros.
To wake up in a city protected by mountains and to say good morning to that warm land and its inhabitants is a good way to daybreak in Cuba. To walk through the streets and parks, to look into its history and museums is a good start. With the sun shining, Santiago awakes your desire refreshing your breath with a cold Pru Orietal (local drink made of roots) reviving the soul and inviting to a rediscovery of the Villa.
The center of the city has precious jewels such as the house that belonged to Governor Diego Velazquez, a construction of the XVI Century that preserves intact the Ghosts of that period and the Cathedral which aside from showing the visitor its impressive splendor holds inside the only ecclesiastic museum of Cuba.
But there is more to see in Santiago. The BaconaoPark is the idyllic place for recreation, it provides shelter and leisure. This park is a reserve of the Biosphere and has in its 80 thousand hectares many possibilities for recreation for more than one day, for full holidays. There are hotels, beaches, restaurants, a dolphinarium, diving centers, and historic monuments. There is a place called the Prehistoric Valley with over 200 Jurassic animals sculpted in stones. The Automobile museum has a broad variety of old cars and miniature replicas. The Isabelica coffee plantation is a place with an interesting history and visitors can spend a pleasant moment enjoying a steaming cup of Cuban coffee.
El Cobre is 16 kilometers away from Santiago, a small town with a big history. The big copper mines at open sky were under exploitation since 1550 and an important rebellion took place there in the XVIII Century making out of El Cobre a great place, but above all, there is a Virgin and a legend: la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Patron of Cuba. La Virgen de la Caridad is located in one of the well recognized and most visited church alters of the Island, her fame as miraculous has traveled throughout the country and all visitors take back a small stone of the energy-giving mineral hoping to return one day to be thankful for the miracle granted.
Leisure time, no matter how small it might be, has also a space reserved in Santiago de Cuba. There is a complete hotel infrastructure giving the possibility to choose the environment of your days and evenings. Comfortable and cosy hotels turn this city into a shelter for a wonderful holiday.
But perhaps the greatest charm of Santiagois its music, adhered to the skin of its inhabitants and obviously in the rhythm of heir talk and walk. That land in the Eastern part of Cuba, is an authentic expression of the music culture of the Island, prodigal in composers, troubadours, sonerosand boleristas. Outstanding musicians like Miguel Matamoros, Sindo Garay, Compay Segundo, Pacho Alonso, Lorenzo Hierrezuelo and Eliades Ochoa -to mention just a few- whose work is a heritage of the country and of the world have assured that "el Son is the most lofty thing to make your soul happy", a pleasure multiplied by many times in the indomitable city of Santiago de Cuba.