Santiago de Cuba province is the second most populous province in Cuba, established as province in 1976. The province’s location between mountains and the Caribbean Sea make it a unique place to visit.
The provincial capital is Santiago de Cuba city, the second most important city of the island after Havana. Named after the patron saint of Spain, the city of Santiago de Cuba nestles between a natural beautiful harbor and the impressive Sierra Maestra mountain range. It is one of Cuba’s most picturesque cities. Here you will find 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.
Santiago de Cuba was the last of the first seven villages established in Cuba by the Spanish Governor Diego Velázquez in 1515, and functioned as capital of the Island until 1550. Santiago de Cuba has a wonderful history since the very beginning of the Spanish conquest, which continued through the struggles for the Cuban independence from Spain and later during the Cuban Revolution.
Traditionally, Santiago de Cuba is considered the most hospitable city of the country. The people of Santiago are open, welcoming, talkative, and generous with outsiders. The outstanding bay of Santiago de Cuba is one of the most beautiful in the island. This city has many historic and interesting sites to visit. Also well known are its Carnival festivities, which takes place in the month of July every year, as well as the Festival del Caribe and the Fiesta del Fuego.
Some of the many interesting place to visit in the city are: the fortress of San Pedro de la Roca, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List; the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery one of the most important funeral monuments of Latin America and the Caribbean where José Martí mausoleum, Cuba's national hero, and Fidel Castro tumb are located; the Diego Velázquez Museum, the oldest house still standing in Cuba; the Padre Pico St., the only street that turns into stairs in Cuba.
Also not far from the city you will find more interesting place to visit: El Cobre, once a mining town, 22 km from the capital. There is the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, the patron saint of Cuba, whom Pope John Paul II crowned during his visit to Cuba in January 1998. Among its treasure is also the gold medal Nobel Prize of Literature Ernest Hemingway won in 1954. In the Baconao Biosphere Reserve is La Gran Piedra, a volcanic rock more than 1200 meters above sea level with a microclimate, cooler temperatures and abundant vegetation and fauna. The mossy soil and floating fog clouds give this area a fairytale atmosphere. Not far from there, ruins of French coffee plantations, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Unquestionably, this province and its capital city is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in Cuba.