Considered the crown jewel of 19th-century Cuban architecture, beautiful, laidback Cienfuegos is known as the "pearl of the south".
Cienfuegos is located on the Caribbean coast of south-central Cuba. The deep, natural harbor made it one of Cuba’s chief seaports during the colonial period. In the 1740s, a fortress, the Castillo de Jagua , was erected to protect the port from pirates. Today, the area is a major producer of sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee.
Founded by French emigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana in 1819, sugar wealth and the favorable location contributed to the town’s rapid growth.
Languid Parque José Martí is the center on which Cienfuegos turns. It’s flanked by government buildings, a cathedral, art gallery and the Teatro Tomás Terry. It features the Arco de Triunfo (unique in Cuba), celebrating the country’s independence.
Punta Gorda, a narrow piece of land jutting into Cienfuegos Bay, forms a distinctly different part of town. In the early 20th century, this area was home to aristocrats who built beautiful homes and art nouveau villas. On the tip of Punta Gorda sits Palacio de Valle , once a casino (now a restaurant) and one of Cienfuegos’s main attractions. With arched windows, Moorish tile work and details throughout, it’s like a Middle Eastern palace. The rooftop terrace is ideal for cocktails and Cienfuegos’ best views.
Lined with palm trees, the Malecón (seaside boulevard) connects the two parts of town.
In addition to its cultural and historic attractions, Cienfuegos has excellent facilities for water sports. Nature lovers enjoy the waterfalls of El Nicho.
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