Camagüey is Cuba’s third-largest city. It is easily the most sophisticated full of magnificent bell towers and elegant old buildings that were once the core of the village Santa María del Puerto del Principe. It’s well-preserved historical center is Cuba’s ninth Unesco World Heritage Site, declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity, in 2008. Camagüey’s pastel colonials and warren-like streets are inspiring. Get lost for a day or two exploring hidden plazas, baroque churches, riveting galleries and congenial bars and restaurants.
The art and culture shine bright here!
Before you get lost in the labyrinth ask your guide to take you on a a city tour on the taxi bikes and show you the amazing sites of Camagüey. There are certainly plenty to choose from, visit Plaza del Carmen, a beautiful square backed on the eastern side by the masterful Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, one of the prettiest city churches. More than a decade ago Plaza del Carmen was a ruin, but it’s now restored to a state better than the original. The cobbled central space has been infused with giant tinajones (clay pots collecting water), atmospheric street lamps and unique life-sized sculptures of camagüeyanos going about their daily business. Or check out Plaza San Juan de Dios, that is Camagüey’s most picturesque and beautifully preserved corner. Its eastern aspect is dominated by the Museo de San Juan de Dios, formerly a hospital. Worthwhile restaurants lurk behind the square’s arresting blue, yellow and pink building facades.
If museums and plazas are not your place, but you want to learn more about the life in Cuba, ask your guide to take you to Mercado Agropecuario Hatibonico, you’ll get a fascinating insight into daily Cuban life and the local economy – this is where farmers can sell their produce after meeting the quota of selling to the state. Camagüey’s the most authentic and colourful market and there are separate areas for produce sold by the state and produce sold by farmers directly to the public. There are plenty of interesting tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs available. Just make sure you hold onto your wallet.
For something more cultural, you could go to the ballet! The ballet, shown at the Teatro Principal, is lead by some of the greatest ballet dancers in the world. They get a real fine treatment by the locals, who turn up dressed in their finest to fill the once glamorous theatre. The red vinyl seats are squeezed in tight looking down on the scuffed wooden stage with its heavy velvet curtains.
And when it is time to relax, you can go to one of the local bars to test the various rum delights they serve. Cuba specifically is known as the origin of some of the smoothest and most sought-after rums on the entire planet, if you were ever going to taste this delicacy, now is the time!
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