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bulletThe sights and Sounds of Trinidad Cuba
bulletTrinidad Cuba - The Soul of the Place
bulletDiscovering Varadero
bulletSeeing Havana
bulletExploring Havana
bulletFerro Artesonal Nave San Jose
bulletAntiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco
bulletCastillo de la Real Fuerza

 

 

The Sights and Sounds of Trinidad, Cuba

By Emma Lelliott 

If you're looking to sample a slice of rural Cuban life, then a stint in a Trinidad hotel could be just the ticket. Located in the center of the island, the city is labeled as a UNESCO world heritage site and is a hot sleepy town filled with colonial architecture and idyllic cobbled streets. Here's everything you need to know about it, if you're considering making a holiday in Trinidad, Cuba a "must" for your next visit to the island.

The Town Itself

The main attraction of a holiday in Trinidad is undoubtedly the town itself. Photographers will have a field day, taking advantage of the charming traditional architecture and timeless feel of the place, while others will just enjoy wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. There are no cars allowed in the centre, adding to its charm, and visitors can take in the city's 1211 buildings, which are mostly made up of wonderfully restored colonial houses, painted in a selection of bright colours, topped with terracotta tiles. The whole experience of walking through the town is a mixture of fairytale beauty, Latin-American vibrancy and peaceful tranquility.

Mixed in with the pretty surroundings are a couple of notable buildings: a handful of idyllic churches, public squares and a number of informative museums each show-casing the architecture, archaeology and history of the old town. While nearly as attraction-packed as Havana, a stay in a Trinidad hotel has enough to hold your attention and allows you to enjoy your stay in a more relaxed and traditionally Caribbean manner.

The Beach

In addition to the days you can happily invest in strolling around the delicious town itself, Trinidad's coastal location lends itself nicely to hours (or days!) spent lounging upon its undisturbed white sands. The region has two splendid beaches - Ancon and Maria Aguilar - and both of them are local to the town and some of the best on the south coast. As for what you do there, you are largely free to pursue your interests - you can relax in the sun, go swimming or enjoy some water sports. Perhaps the best way to enjoy it though is snorkelling or scuba diving, as visitors can roam amongst the wide selection of sponges, gorgonians, sea fans, black coral and various colourful tropical fish. Those wanting a premiere dive site can find many in Cuba, whilst Trinidad's coast is a nice plus for those who want to dive as an extra, rather than as the main focus of their trip...

The Nature Reserve

Trinidad itself is set in an absolutely stunning setting, nestled between the Sierra de Escambray Mountains and gorgeous coastline. If you want to feel even more at home with nature though, the Topes de Collantes Natural Park features an impressive selection of plants and birds, set high up in the mountains. Visitors can expect to see a selection of wildlife include various colourful birds, ferns, and precious wood trees.

The Old Sugar Mills

The city of Trinidad isn't the only historical point of interest in the area to be granted UNESCO heritage status. The Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) is a group of three valleys that were the island's centre for sugar production between the 18th and late 19th century. The whole area is approximately 100 square miles, and includes the sites of more than 70 former sugar mills. Many of them are now in a bad state of repair, but the region's inherent beauty and the history contained within the area makes it well worth a look for those staying locally in one of Trinidad's hotels.

Far from the tanned crowds of Varadero, and the (comparatively) bustling city life of Havana, a holiday in Trinidad presents a whole new example of Cuban life that many tourists miss completely. From the charming town, to the relaxed beach and the enchanting local attractions, Trinidad, Cuba, is the perfect place to stay to sample rural life on the island, and to get away from the hectic pace of life in the UK.

 

Emma Lelliott is the General Manager of Captivating Cuba, an independent specialist in Trinidad holidays and hotels. With offices in Havana and the UK, Captivating Cuba can help you tailor-make the perfect Cuban holiday experience.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Emma_Lelliott

 

 

Trinidad Cuba – The Soul of the Place

By Brian Ramsey

Founded in 1514, the city of Trinidad in Cuba is over 500 years old. Said to be the best preserved colonial era town in Cuba, Trinidad definitely gives you the visual impression of an old place when you see it. Yes there are cobblestone streets and historic buildings but when one begins walking you at first think, is that it, is it only just old buildings? It takes some time and then it hits you, they have preserved the colonial era. It is not just the buildings, it is the interior; the attraction of the place is on the inside. The preservation of the interiors gives the soul to this Cuidad.  

 

 

The buildings contain the period furniture, cutlery and pictures. This is a living museum because the furniture is juxtaposed among everyday commercial life. These are restaurants, souvenir stores, art galleries with furniture reflective of earlier time periods but with the furniture placed so that you feel as if you are eating in a house and in the next room is the bedroom complete with made up beds. You sit and admire art as though you are in a living room from a bygone era admiring the owner’s art. As you walk along you can also look in the open doorways or windows of the residents homes and see the colonial era furniture still in use.

 

 

Along your stroll you can step into a Santeria temple and see the area for worship and the dirt backyard for sacrifice. Santería is also known as Regla de Ocha or the Lucumí religion and practiced today by people all over the world but is generally defined as an Afro-Cuban religion that originated in Nigeria and Benin in West Africa. The name Santería  is Spanish in origin and arises because practitioners of the religion  refer to the Orichas, or the deities of the religion, as saints or "santos" and so  the name is a loose translation of devotion to the saints, or santos.

You can also visit the Catholic Cathedral, Church of the Holy Trinity (Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad) which was completed in 1892 on a site of a previous 17th century church that was destroyed by a hurricane in the 19th century. The church contains an 18th-century wooden statue of Christ, "The Lord of the True Cross" ("El Señor de la Vera Cruz") which is an object of particular reverence in Trinidad. Originally destined for a church in Veracruz in Mexico, the ship carrying the statue was driven back to Trinidad three times by bad weather and was only able to make the journey after abandoning part of its cargo which included the statue of Christ. This was taken as divine intervention by the local population and the statue has been housed in the church ever since. Within these hallowed halls you can admire the elaborate Stations of the Cross.

 

The preservation of this town has also preserved the manners and speed of life of times past. All over Cuba there is art for sale, colorful, vibrant art depicting facets of Cuban life but in Trinidad you can go into the small galleries and meet the artist who created these scenes and who will stop their painting and explain about the painting plus help you select a picture.

The town has a timeless quality and a pleasant way to spend part of the day is sitting in a square under the shade of the trees watching the horse drawn carriages transporting people, while little children walk home from school to have their lunch. You can sit in the square and listen to a group of old men playing music and then chatting. The music is so good and blends so well with the atmosphere that tourists stop and dance or sit and sway to the music. It seems as if their minds’ say, Yes this is a holiday; my cares and troubles are far away.

 

The entire town reflects the colonial period but the historic heart is the best. It is here that life slows to a less than modern pace, where even the dogs doze under the shade of the benches. At nights on the steps next to the Cathedral there are live bands performing and people come to dance to salsa and rumba, with restaurants and bars encircling the steps and waiters ready to fill your orders.

 

 

Discovering Varadero on Your Cuba Holidays

By Robert Santry 

Whilst many visitors on their Cuba holidays are more than content to lie on the warm, sandy beaches of Varadero and make the most of the various all-inclusive cocktail bars offered at their luxury Cuban hotels, there is also plenty to explore in the surrounding area for the more active tourist.

One of the main attractions of Varadero is the stunning caves that make up the region, of which the most popular are the Bellamar Caves, featuring stalagmite formations and carsick crystals. But whilst these natural elements may both be considered breathtaking, what really sets the Bellamar Caves apart from any other are the painted frescoes on the cave walls. These, along with the fossilised remains, show evidence that they were inhabited many years ago.

The Delfinario is definitely worth visiting on your Cuba holidays, particularly if you plan on travelling with young children. This venue is both the place to go to swim with dolphins and to attend one of the world-famous dolphin shows. The dolphins are kept in a natural fresh-water lagoon and approach their keeper when they want to appear in the show, and not vice-versa. Whilst adults can enjoy a couple of hours swimming with these playful porpoises, smaller children can be carried into the water in life-jackets for photographs.

However, the highlight of Varadero is definitely the native flora and fauna of the area. Varadero is located in Cuba's Matanzas Province, which is best known as the region where The Bay of Pigs Invasion took place. The Cienaga De Zapata nature reserve, located in this area, is the only place in the world that you can spot the rare bee hummingbird. On your Cuba holiday, joining a bird-watching tour is your best bet of spotting one of these elusive birds. This is because the qualified guides, that lead the tours, not only know all the signs to watch out for, but also the most popular nesting areas in the national park. As well as bee hummingbirds, a tour of the Cienaga De Zapata National Park will give you the opportunity to spot native birds, such as the Cuban crow and the Neotropical Cormorant. This National Park is considered by many avid ornithologists to be the best place in the world for bird-watching, and as such the guides who work in the area are passionate about what they do. Many of them can even emulate the cries and catcalls of numerous Cuban birds, which is definitely worth seeing on your holidays in Cuba.

Located a short walk away from Cienaga De Zapata is the Criadero Cocodrillo Centre; the largest crocodile centre in Cuba. Criadero has been instrumental in the breeding of the Cuban crocodile, a crocodile, which is currently only found in the wild at the Cienaga De Zapata Swamps. Holding one of the centre's baby crocodiles is both a rare and thrilling privilege, which will provide the perfect ending to your Cuba holiday.

About the Author

Rob Santry is a Cuba holiday expert for key2holidays, an online tour operator offering Cuba holidays, as well as trips to Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Egypt, the Far East, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Dubai and the Arabian Gulf. Key2holidays has a dedicated team of experienced travel consultants to share their knowledge and help you to plan and book your ideal holiday.

 

Seeing Havana

By Brian Ramsey

Havana is a city with much to see. A quick way to see the sights is take a Havana Bus Tour. On the tour you ride in an open air double decker bus for about 2 hours while your guide points out the sights around the city. A very nice feature of this tour is that you can hop on and hop off at any time. If you see something interesting that you want to see in more detail you can get a ticket from the guide and hop off the bus. Later that day when another tour bus comes along you simply present your ticket and hop on.

While the bus tour is interesting, you only get to see a few of Havana’s attractions, the best way to see Havana is to walk the streets. The area around Parque Central in Havana Viejo (Old Havana) is the best for this type of sightseeing.  The hotel can provide you with a map of the streets with attractions marked on the map or you can come armed with your map, a comfortable pair of walking shoes, your camera and off you go.

 

Around Parque Central are many majestic restored buildings but all over Havana Viejo there are lovely old buildings. In addition to the old buildings are innumerable museums as well as restored fortifications. Almost all the streets seem to lead to a different plaza with statues of Cuban Heroes, fountains and benches for relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. Of course in walking the streets you get to see all the vintage cars that Cubans have kept running over the years.

 

A very good street to a walk along is Calle Obispo which is just off Parque Central and which has shops, museums, the Ernest Hemmingway house, a craft market and several restaurants and bars. Even at nights Havana is an attractive place full of music, restaurants, bars and people out in the streets.

 

 

Exploring_Havana_Cuba
By Frank Benitez

Cuba's identity owes a great deal to the fact that it is surrounded by sea as well as to its geographical position. It is sometimes called the "key to the gulf" because of its strategic location between North and South America at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, and the island has been a crossroads since the beginning of the Colonial period. As a result, the island's early population consisted of European settlers, a few native Indians who had survived struggles against invaders.

In general, Cubans are outgoing, talkative and sociable. The doors to theirs houses are always open, a glass of rum or a cup of coffee is there for anyone who passes by to say hello and chat.

An aerial view would show the island stretching out in the Caribbean Sea and indeed covered with vegetation and patterned with rivers. Small coral reefs lie just offshore in the sparkling blue sea. In the interior, the landscape is very varied, from plains of red earth to mogotes outcrops of Viñales, from desert cactus to tropical forest. Protected reserves make up 22 percent of the national territory. There are numerous species found only in Cuba, but no poisonous creatures.

Havana is a lively, colorful capital city, full of bustle and entertainment, with some splendid architectural gems from the Colonial period and beyond, and numerous other sights. The city alone is worth the trip to Cuba. Many attractions are concentrated in three quarters: Habana vieja (Old Havana), Centro Habana and Vedado. In Old Havana you are going to find some of the most wonderful architectural pieces of the 19Th century. The historic Heart of Havana, which was declared part of the "cultural heritage of humanity" by UNESCO in 1982, is the largest Colonial center in Latin America. After two centuries of neglect, restoration work is reviving the former splendour of the district. Havana Vieja is characterized by Hispanic-Andalusian architecture, vitalized by the tropical sun and lush vegetation.

Time seems to stand still there but nonetheless the zone does not give the impression of being a museum.

Things to see in Old Havana:

  1. Plaza de la cathedral
  2. Plaza de armas
  3. Palacio de los capitanes Generales
  4. Plaza de San Francisco
  5. Plaza vieja
  6. Colonial art museum
  7. Jose Marti museum
  8. Hotel Dos Mundos (Ernest Hemingway First's residence)

Centro Havana and Prado:

Centro Habana has the air of impoverished aristocrat - a noble creature whose threadbare clothes belie a splendid past full of treasures. this varied quarter developed beyond the city walls (which ran parallel to present-day Avenida Belgica and Avenida de las Misiones) during 1800s and was initially built to provide houses and greenery for the citizens. Most construction took place after 1863, when the walls began to be demolished to make more land available. the work was finally completed in the 1920s and 30s when French architect Forestier landscaped the area of the Paseo del Prado, the Parque Central, the Capitol gardens and Parque de la Fraternidad.

Things to see in Centro Havana:

  1. The Capitol
  2. Paseo del Prado
  3. Hotel Inglaterra
  4. The National fine arts museum
  5. National music museum

Vedado and Plaza:

The unusual grid plan of Vedado was the design of the engineer Luis Yboleón Bosque in 1859. it calles for pavements 2 m (6ft) wide, houses with a garden, and broad straight avenues. The name Vedado ("prohibited") arose because in the 1500s, in order to have full view of any pirates approaching, it was forbidden to built houses and street there. In the late 19Th and early 20Th century the quarter was enlarged, becoming a prestigious residential area for many of the city's leading family. Vedado has two different roles. It is Havana's modern political and cultural center, with the city's main hotels, restaurants, shops, theaters, cinemas, offices and ministries; and it is also an historic quarter with a wealth of gardens and old house with grand colonial entrances. plaza de la revolución, the venue for major celebrations, is the political center of Havana and the whole of Cuba as well as a highly symbolic place.

Things to see in Vedado:

  1. Jose Marti Memorial
  2. Necropolis Colon Cemetery
  3. Casa de las Americas
  4. Plaza de la revolucion
  5. El malecon (starts at Vedado and ends at Old Havana)
  6. The Hotel Nacional

Some other places to see are the Morro fortress, San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress and plenty more.

If you want to know more about the author please visit his website. http://www.flyawaytrip.com/ For more info about Cuba and other destinations

For scenes of downtown Havana you can look at the video

 

 

Ferro Artesonal Nave San Jose

By Brian Ramsey

Throughout Havana there are craft markets selling souvenir items and it seems that every street has a downstairs apartment that has been converted into a store selling craft items. The Ferro Artesonal Nave San Jose however is unique as it is a huge covered warehouse that sells every imaginable souvenir and is certainly the largest souvenir market that I have ever seen. The market is so large that it is organized by streets. Within its confines you can find paintings, clothing, jewellery, leather goods, sculptures and anything else that you can think of as a gift item.  It also has a cambio, snack bars and bathrooms.

One thing that is noticeable about the paintings is that they are vibrant and full of color depicting scenes of Cuban life. One recurring theme in many of the paintings is the classic American car. It is a central feature of Cuban life and they are glorified in the art. Another dominant theme is music. Everywhere in Cuba is filled with Cuban music and the enjoyment of music plus the players who produce that music are brought to life in the paintings. Cuba has a well deserved reputation for producing fine cigars and this theme is also depicted in many of the paintings on display.

Walking through a large market can get hot but this is one market that is very cool because it is located on the waterfront and the cool ocean breezes blow through the market.

 

 

 

Antiguo Almacen de la Madera Y El Tabaco

By Brian Ramsey

Located on the waterfront in Havana next to the Ferro Artesonal Nave San Jose Craft Market, this converted warehouse is a great location to relax at after a busy time of shopping.  Specializing in the production of craft beer, you can sit inside the warehouse or outside along the sea front and enjoy a beer made on the premises. If you are a real beer lover, among the distinctive features of the establishment are its tall glass jugs, tarros, which can hold up to six pitchers of beer. As this is a mini-brewery, while relaxing you can observe the vats in which the beer is made and at times see the staff working on the production of the beer.

Apart from the house beers they also sell other beers and alcoholic drinks plus other non-alcoholic drinks. If the walking around has made you hungry they have a delightful array of dishes to satisfy your craving for food. The restaurant specializes in light fare, including grilled seafood, charcoaled meats and brochettes.

Adding to the atmosphere of the location is that they have retained some of the original warehouse racking while on the outside are preserved railway locomotives. The English translation of the name means Old Wood and Tobacco Warehouse Brewery and the décor certainly gives you that warehouse feel while at the same time providing a comfortable and spacious area. The railroad engines outside are reminders of the early 1900's when the Havana Central Railroad Company commissioned the construction of the adjacent wharf.

 

Castillo de la Real Fuerza

By Brian Ramsey

Castillo de La Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force) is located just off the Plaza de Armas in Havana at O’Relly and Avenida del Puerto. Construction of this fort started in 1558 and was completed in 1577. It was built to protect the port of Havana from English Privateers such as Francis Drake and the navies of other nations, plus protect the Spanish galleons that gathered in Havana to form the armada before setting off for Spain laden with the treasures from South America. The fort is considered to be the oldest stone fort in the Americas, and was listed in 1982 as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of "Old Havana and its Fortifications".

Restored with the original brick, this is a real fort complete with a moat.

 

 



While it is interesting to see the design of the fort and how it was constructed for defense, the more interesting aspect of visiting this fort are the artifacts contained within it. Many of these artifacts have been recovered from the sea as they were contained in Spanish Galleons sunk over the centuries. These artifacts include gold and silver bars, jewels, jewellry and coins. Also included are artifacts recovered through archaeological digs.

Another interesting feature of the fort are the models of Spanish and English galleons, clippers, ships of the line and other vessels. It is amazing to see the level of detail contained in the reproductions of these vessels. In the 18th century the Royal Shipyard of Havana was one of the largest in the world, and built nearly 200 ships for the Spanish Crown. One of the ships that was constructed in Havana was the Santisima Trinidad, built in 1769 and at the time was the largest ship in the world with 140 cannons on four gun decks. The Santisima Trinidad fought in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and within the fort is a four metre model of this vessel. The second level of the museum hosts many other historic and contemporary models of ships with links to Cuba and is also a good location for viewing the harbour and city skyline.

 



At the top of fort is a watchtower that was added in 1634 and has a weathervane sculpted in the form of a woman. Popular legend has it that the weather vane is to honor Inés de Bobadilla, Havana's only female governor, who assumed control from her husband Hernando de Soto when he undertook an expedition to Florida. It is said that she spent years scanning the horizon looking for her husband's return, not knowing that he had died on the banks of the Mississippi River.

 

To learn more about Cuba, visit our other Cuba Pages

bulletExploring Havana
bulletDiscovering Varadero
bulletOther Cuban Attractions
bulletCuban Scuba

To learn about the other islands in the Caribbean, visit our Island Adventures Page

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