Cienfuegos was founded in 1819, when French colonists settled in around the most spectacular and natural bay in Cuba bringing their elegant, classical architecture, wide, airy streets giving it a modern, spacious feel. If Cuba had a Paris this place would be it. The elegance of the place combined with a feisty Caribbean spirit and lingering Spanish influence, earnt it not only the knickname ‘Pearl of the South’ but also a UNESCO Heritage Listing in 2005.
In the Historical Center of Cienfuegos, we find the José Martí Park. Its construction ended in 1850 and it was used as old Arms Square and had several names. At the time of founding of the city of Cienfuegos, this area was the starting point for the first streets. For this and more reasons is one of the main symbols of the culture and identity of the entire province. Embellished by trees and shrubs, well paved and with benches to sit on. Numerous busts and sculptures adorn it. Over the years, it has become one of the most beautiful parks in the country. A must visit place in the city.
You will find plenty too look at around here, like the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and the Tomas Terry theater, where you can watch live plays. Your guide can take you on a city tour, to help your discovery of this magic place, with amazing architecture, craft markets and art galleries.
Cienfuegos boasts many amazing and important buildings. Like Castillo de Jagua, also known as Castle of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua, is located to the western side of the mouth of the bay. It was built to defend the area from possible attacks by pirates. It became the most important fortress in Cuba after those of Santiago and Havana. If you are looking for more architectural wonders, check out Punta Gorda, a thin knife of land slicing into the bay with a clutch of outrageously eclectic palaces built by the moneyed classes in the 1920s, front up directly to the peaceful bay waters.This peninsula which enters the bay and terminates in La Punta, has been declared a National Monument. Amongst the most important is the Palacio de Gobierno, an elegant eclectic mansion that combines the styles of Mudejar, Byzantine, Venetian, Gothic and Baroque.
Just outside of Cienfuegos, you will find the 94-hectare botanic garden. It is Cuba’s oldest, established in 1901. The garden houses 2000 species of trees, including 23 types of bamboo, 65 types of fig and 150 different palms. It was founded by US sugar baron Edwin F Atkins, who initially intended to use it to study different varieties of sugarcane, but instead began planting exotic tropical trees. If you reserve ahead, you can also partake in a special 7am birdwatching excursion.
Drive a bit further to the Topes de Collantes nature reserve, that stretches across the south eastern Escambray Mountains. Packed with rivers, waterfalls, canyons and caves, this jungle shrouded natural area is a great way to escape the heat and explore some beautiful scenery. The nature reserve is made up of 5 ‘parques’, Parque El Nicho is the favourite. Here, a collection of short walking trails meander through swaying palms hiding crystal clear swimming holes, canyon views and cascading waterfalls. It’s the perfect spot for a refreshing swim in the Cuban jungle – cuba travel agency.
Join our Simply Cuba Tour to discover this amazing place!