Built on a sequence of hills overlooking a large bay with the Sierra Maestra in the background, Santiago de Cuba is one of Cuba´s most picturesque cities. Its colorful streets sweep up and down steep hills, giving visitors a nice workout on a stroll through the city.
Cuba’s second-largest city, Santiago de Cuba was founded on June 28, 1524 by the Spanish. From 1522 until 1589 it was the capital of Cuba.
Santiago de Cuba is authentic Caribbean through and through. It’s closer to Hispaniola than Havana, which has something to do with it. The city also has deep African roots and traditions, attributable to the colonial slave trade and the influx of French immigrants, accompanied by their African slaves, after the Haitian slave revolt of 1791.
Many Cuban music genres originated here. If Cuban rhythms and passionate dances move you, this is a must-visit destination, especially during the raucous annual Carnival celebrations in July. Other exciting events include the Festival del Caribe and Fiesta del Fuego. For an excellent night out any time visit the Casa de la Trova – both the music and dancing are phenomenal.
Parque Céspedes is the gathering place for young and old. It’s a great starting point for visits to many attractions including
the Diego Velázquez Museum, the oldest house still standing in Cuba. Next to it is the municipal building where Fidel Castro made his first speech after the 1959 victory; the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba is opposite. Within walking distance lies the Carnival Museum and Bacardí Museum, the latter displaying a private collection of the famous Bacardí family.