Ciego de Ávila is the flattest province in Cuba, never rising more than 50m above sea level. Although there are relatively few rivers running through the province, the good underground irrigation network makes the area fertile and productive; sugar cane and pineapple plantations are the major local crops. Indeed, the province is famous for its pineapples and frequent reference is made to this ‘queen of fruits’ here.
The province was once home to a large indigenous population and there are several semi-preserved sites which are worth looking up. There are also remnants of late 19th-century fortresses which were used to divide up the island during the War of Independence.
Ciego de Ávila City:
The city, 460km east of Havana and 110km west of Camagüey, has developed as something of an historical pit stop: in the 19th century, travellers used it as an overnight watering hole before continuing on to the islands of Trinidad and Hispaniola.
Interesting places to visit include Parque Martí and the Teatro Principal, a 500-seat theatre slated for further restoration, a few blocks away. The theatre was built by rich socialite Angela Hernandez Viuda de Jimenez, who struggled to create a cultural Mecca in her hometown.
For those interested in the struggle to overthrow Batista, the Museo Provincial on Calle José Antonio Echevarría, is worth a visit. Meanwhile, some may find the Centro Provincial de Arte on Calle Independencia appealing. The Casa de la Trova, Libertad No 130, can be raucous and entertaining, depending on the night.
Traffic in town is largely horse-driven and the longest possible journey via this local transport should only cost a few pesos. The town is built on a strict grid system centered on Parque Martí, but there are a few buildings of note: the most popular meeting place on the square is the Casa de Agua (Water House), which serves free glasses of local mineral water, as well as homemade refrescos (soft drinks) and fruit juices.