Santiago de Cuba - Colonial architecture, lively culture, a distinct identity (31 May)

Interesting Facts about Santiago de Cuba

CUBA’S SECOND LARGEST CITY, Santiago de Cuba, is best known for its baroque and colonial architecture. Far fewer visitors find their way here than to Havana, but those who do find a historic, culturally rich city. Like Havana, it was built on an inlet. It was protected by the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro, a sprawling, multiterraced 17th-century fortress five miles (8 km) southwest of the city, among the New World’s best preserved Spanish fortresses. Its cannon-decked ramparts offer stellar views of the bay and the verdant surrounding hills.
Parque Céspedes serves as the ancient heart of Santiago de Cuba and is flanked by its most important buildings. Butter yellow Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, adorned with crosses and angels, dates originally from the 16th century. Rebuilt through the years after numerous earthquakes, it reigns majestically over the plaza. The earliest conquistadores viewed the square from the Andalusian-style Casa de Diego Velázquez, built by the city’s founder in the 16th century. Santiago de Cuba is also home to Moncada Barracks, where Fidel Castro began the Cuban Revolution. Nearby San Juan Hill, site of pivotal battles of 1898’s Spanish-American War, shows the deep ties Cuba has long had with the United States.