Santiago de Cuba

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Santiago, de second city, as a lot to offer
a rich history and many tourist attractions
Santiago is the second largest city of the island, home to quite a bit of the commercial and economic areas of the country. The city also is a large tourist mecca, including a great deal of sites and attractions. When it comes to historical significance, Santiago is not lacking. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this city has a rich history and an interesting present.
For the tourist, there is much to see and do in Santiago if they just know what to look for.


The city of Santiago is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for a very good reason. It includes a very rich and a very fascinating history. Built in the early fifteen hundreds by Spanish Conquistadors, the city was meant to be a starting off point for expeditions into central and South America. Because of this, much of the city included military fortifications and battlements. In fact, UNESCO has sited that their reason to make the city a world heritage site is the existing San Pedro Castle. (1)

Through the centuries, the city was invaded by a number of different countries, including France and Britain. These two countries have had a great cultural influence on Santiago. In addition, during the nineteenth century a number of Haitian slaves and Frenchmen immigrated to Cuba, especially Santiago to escape the battle that was going on in Haiti. Because of the above reasons, the culture of the city is an eclectic mix that creates a unique Caribbean culture with African, Spanish, and French influences. (2)

Throughout history, Santiago has found itself home to major leaders of the island. For instance, during the Cuban Revolution, the city was the home base of a main player in the battle, Frank Pais. Pais, who was a professor in Santiago, played a large role in Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the Cuban government. In fact, Frank Pais, who was killed in Santiago, is recognized as a national hero within the city and throughout the country.

On an interesting side note, quite a few people considered to be famous were either born in Santiago or actually grew up there. Some of the famous people from the city include Desi Arnaz, Emilio Bacardi, La Lupe, and Rita Marley (Bob Marley’s wife).

Tourist Attractions

In addition to including a rich history, the city includes a plethora of tourist attractions that draw visitors by the thousands. There is much to see when a person visits the city. With its rich history, obviously, Santiago has much to offer as far as historic attractions. Some of these include a selection of museums. The Museum of History is housed within the former home of the Viceroy and includes artifacts and exhibits from the history of the island. The Museum of Emilio Bacardi is actually one of the very first museums opened in Santiago. Further museums of note include the Museo Del Ron, the Museo de Clanestinidad and museum Isabelica.

Every July, the Cuba Carnival is held in Santiago. This event is a party, which lasts several days and includes a number of cultural events, including music, food, and parties. Carnival is a time when many people choose to visit the city since it offers a combination of entertainment and culture.

What to See and Do

There is plenty in Santiago. In order to accommodate the influx of visitors who come to the city every year, there are lots of places to stay and eat. Visitors will also find a lively nightlife within the second largest Cuban city.

If the visitor is looking for an authentic Cuban experience during their stay in Santiago, there are several eating establishments that are well known for their atmosphere. These options include the Café La Isabelica, a cantina style establishment, the Santiago 1900, which is housed in the former Bacardi home it includes a Caribbean feel, and La Taberna de Delores, which is inexpensive and authentic in culture.

When it comes to nightlife, guests will find a variety of cabarets and discos. Some of the most well known include Tropicana Santiago, Café Cantante, Cabaret La Maison, and Discoteca Espantasuenos.

There is a selection of places to stay, and Cuban tradition is to include standard hotels as well as Casa Particulars ( Bed and Breakfast). Some of the most well known options for lodging include Hotel Casa Grande, which is a historic hotel, Melia Santiago, which is a luxury lodging, and Hotel Versalles, which is a bungalow style lodging.

This may be the second largest city, but is still full of excitement, entertainment, history and culture. Bustling with activity from those who live in Cuba and filled with a constant flux of tourists, the place is always alive.

- Unesco World Heritage
(1) San Pedro de la Roca Castle
(2) History of Santiago
- Latin American Studies

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