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Cuba

Main attractions

El Capitolio in Havana, Cuba
El Capitolio in Havana / Class V, / CC BY-SA 2.0

This largest island in Caribbean offers many surprising landmarks. Cuba has pristine rainforest, giant caves, historical cities and unusual petroglyphs. The highlights of this island country are:

Rain is coming to Viñales Valley, Cuba
Rain is coming to Viñales Valley / Phil Bartle, / CC BY 2.0
  • Biodiversity. In several locations around the country have evolved unique species of plants and animals, forming interesting ecosystems. Some (such as Ciénaga de Zapata) are too large and fall outside the scope of Wondermondo, but there are smaller unique ecosystems, such as El Yunque, Mogotes de Jumagua and the fantastic marine terraces of Maisí and Cabo Cruz.
  • Caves. The longest caves in Cuba are more than 50 km long. Martin Infierno Cave contains largest known stalagmites in the world - up to 67.2 m tall!
  • Historical cities. Several of Cuban cities belong to the most interesting historical cities in Americas. True jewel is the beautiful Trinidad, Camagüey was specially planned as a maze to disorientate the pirates and - well, Old Havana would make any European country proud.
  • Metropolitan architecture in Havana. The magnificent buildings in Havana testify the affluence of Cuba in the late 19th - early 20th century. This Caribbean metropolis has very special charm and such buildings as El Capitolio, Great Theatre or Bacardi Building form a magnificent background to the streetlife of this amazing city.

Natural landmarks

Caves

Cueva de los Portales, Cuba
Natural arch - entrance in Cueva de los Portales / Laura512, / CC BY 2.0
  • Bellamar Cave - Matanzas. Very old (300 000 years), 23 km long cave.
  • Caverna de los Perdidos - Pinar del Rio. Very large cave system, explored length of passages - 29.770 km.
  • Caverna de Santa Catalina - Matanzas. 39 km long cave system.
  • Cueva Cuba - Hungría - Cienfuegos. The deepest cave in Cuba - 440 m deep!
  • Cueva de los Portales - Pinar del Rio. Beautiful cave which starts in a natural arch, where the river cuts through the mountain. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 here lived Che Guevara - it was considered that he could lead the revolution after the potential American bombing.
  • Cueva Farallones de Gran Tierra de Moa - Holguín. Very impressive cave system, partly flooded.
  • Gran Caverna de Palmarito (Palamarito) - Pinar del Rio. One of the longest caves in Cuba - explored length of the cave exceeds 35 km. Together with Novillo and Pan de Azucar (23.613 km) caves the length exceeds 50 km.
  • Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás - Pinar del Rio. One of the largest known caves in Cuba, the explored length of passages is 46.2 km. Cave has beautiful speleothems, including gours.
  • Gran Caverna Majaguas-Cantera - Pinar del Rio. 21.127 km long cave system.
  • Martin Infierno Cave - Cienfuegos. Cave with the tallest stalagmite in the world. This fantastic speleothem is 67.2 metres tall. Two other stalagmites are 45 and 35 m tall. Cave is 793 m long, 179 m deep, it has also unique, enormous gypsum flowers and fossils of extinct mammals.

Ecosystems

El Yunque plateau, Cuba
El Yunque plateau / Adam Jones, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • El Yunque - Guantánamo. Forested mountain plateau where in isolation for millions of years have evolved endemic species of ferns and palms.
  • Marine terraces of Cabo Cruz - Granma. Some of the most prominent limestone marine terraces in the world - a rugged coast with several impressive marine terraces starting in 180 m depth under the sea and rising up to 360 m above the sea level. Terraces contain unique ecosystems with many endemic species of plants and animals.
  • Marine terraces of Maisí - Guantánamo. Possibly the most prominent limestone marine terraces in the world - a rugged coast with several impressive marine terraces starting under the sea and rising up to 460 m above the sea level. Terraces contain unique ecosystems with many endemic species of plants and animals. Some of the most exotic are the large, colourful land snails of Polymicta genus.
  • Mogotes de Jumagua - Villa Clara. Group of 8 forested limestone hills. These hills have served as a refuge for numerous species of plants and animals not met anywhere else. In the hills have formed caves. Interesting endemic species is Thrinax ekmaniana - a spectacular palm, some 100 trees remain. Site of many legends.
Río Yumurí Canyon, Cuba
Río Yumurí Canyon / Jorge Emilio Alba, / CC0 1.0

Other natural landmarks

  • El Patriarca - Matanzas. One of the largest cacti in the world. This Dendrocereus nudiflorus might be more than 500 years old.
  • Hoyo de Morlotte (Sotano de Morlotte) - Granma. Impressive sinkhole - 77 m deep and with a diameter of 55 m.
  • Las Breas of San Felipe - Matanzas. Two ancient asphalt seeps where in the past have drowned many animals which are extinct now. Interesting are the remnants of enormous sloths Megalocnus rodens (went extinct after the coming of people), crocodiles.
  • Río Jauco Canyon - Guantánamo. Spectacular, up to 300 m deep canyon with limestone cliffs, covered with pristine rainforest.
  • Río Yumurí Canyon - Guantánamo. Spectacular, up to 200 m deep canyon with limestone cliffs, covered with pristine rainforest.
  • Salto Fino - Guantánamo. The tallest waterfall in Caribbean, 305 m tall. Formed on Arroyo del Infierno, this waterfall is not a vertical plunge: it slides down along very steep mountainside. Tallest plunge is some 60 m tall.

Man made landmarks

Petroglyphs

Cuba is rather rich with petroglyph sites, below is just a selection of some sites with petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs in Cueva de Ambrosio, Cuba
Petroglyphs in Cueva de Ambrosio / Pato Novoa, / CC BY 2.0
  • Cueva de Ambrosio - Matanzas. A cave rich with petroglyphs in red and black, created in three time periods.
  • Cueva de la Iguana - Pinar del Rio. Cave with nine groups of petroglyphs - intricate incised lines.
  • Cueva de los Petroglifos - Pinar del Rio. Unique cave with prehistoric cliff art in four techniques - made with soot, incised, incised over soot and drawn with carbon.
  • Cueva de Pichardo - Camagüey. Beautiful cave with up to 17 m long stalagmites. Taino people have lived here and left amazing petroglyphs.
  • Cueva de Punta del Este, Francés - Isla de la Juventud. Beautiful cave, partly under the water. Contains amazing petroglyphs - elaborate spirals, presumably made by Ciboney culture.
  • Punta del Este petroglyph caves - Isla de la Juventud. Group of seaside caves with 235 prehistoric drawings - mainly complex, overlaid sets of concentric rings. Some drawings have clear astronomical orientation.

Other archaeological landmarks

  • Cueva de los Niños - Sancti Spíritus. Cave with 13 prehistoric child burials. Each deceased child got a stone ball with him - larger ones for larger children, smaller ones - for smaller. Balls have been crafted in very high quality. Cave has petroglyphs as well.
  • El Guate Caves (El Guafe) - Granma. A group of ceremonial and funerary caves. Amazing is Idolo del Agua - a stalagmite with carved face rising from the water in one of the caves.
  • Patana Cave - Guantánamo. A cave in the limestone marine terraces, which contains 9 idols carved in stalagmites. Around the cave are located more archaeological monuments.
  • Pueblo Viejo in Maisí and Laguna de Limones - Guantánamo. Prehistoric earthen enclosures - ceremonial squares. The largest monuments of such kind in West Indies.

Historical cities

Street in Trinidad, Cuba
Street in Trinidad / Elemaki, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Camagüey - Camagüey. A historical city with winding alleys and authentic architecture, established in this location in 1528. The city is intentionally planned as a maze to make it hard for pirates to orientate. Numerous ornate buildings.
  • Cienfuegos - Cienfuegos. Beautiful historical city with many hundred buildings in Neo-Classical style and many other historical buildings. With its strict grid planning Cienfuegos is one of the best examples of the Spanish Enlightement city planning from the early 19th century.
  • Old Havana - La Habana. A centre of Caribbean metropolis, established in 1519. The best preserved large historical city in Americas. The enormous historical centre of city has huge number of valuable buildings in Baroque, Neo-Classicism, Ecclecticism, Art Noveau and Modern styles. Buildings have retained their original details of wrought iron and wood. Old Havana has many impressive places but one of the best known is Malecón - one of the most picturesque promenades in the world.
  • Trinidad - Sancti Spíritus. Beautiful historical centre in one of the oldest cities in Americas. The city was founded in 1514 and its centre almost entirely consists of very well preserved historical buildings. Street network was developed in the 16th - 17th centuries, but current buildings are built in the 18th - 19th century.

Fortifications

Castillo de San Pedro near Santiago de Cuba
Castillo de San Pedro near Santiago de Cuba / Adam Jones, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Castillo de la Real Fuerza - La Habana. The oldest European built stone fortress in Americas, built in 1558 - 1577. Important historical monument with a symbolic meaning for Cuba.
  • Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca - Santiago de Cuba. Very well preserved, large fortress, built in 1638 - 1700. Most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture, built in Italian Renaissance style.
  • La Cabaña - La Habana. The largest historical European fortress in Americas, built in 1763 - 1774.

Architecture and history monuments in Havana

Great Theatre, Havana
Great Theatre, Havana / Thomas Münter, / CC BY 2.0
  • Bacardi Building - La Habana. Beautiful Art Deco skyscraper, built in 1930.
  • Bodeguita del Medio - La Habana. A restaurant - bar with interesting history. This bar was patronized by such personalities as Salvador Allende, Pablo Neruda, Ernest Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich and many other famous people. A site where reportedly a coctail Mojito was created in 1942. Premises of restaurant are filled with historical values.
  • Cathedral of Havana - La Habana. Baroque cathedral, started in 1748 as a Jesuit church, completed in 1777 as the church for Havana. The building has beautiful, assymetric facade.
  • Colon Cemetery - La Habana. One of most prominent historical cemeteries in Latin America. Established in 1876 and contains more than 500 elaborate mausoleums, chapels and family vaults.
  • El Capitolio - La Habana. The historical seat of Cuban Government, now - Cuban Academy of Sciences. Built in Neo-Classicism style in 1926 - 1929, superficially similar to the United States Capitol. The enormous dome is 92 m high.
  • Escuelas Nacionales de Arte in Cubanacán - La Habana. Group of unique modern buildings, constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. As the cement and concrete was a scarcity in these times, the buildings were built of brick, creating unique light domed structures.
  • Floridita - La Habana. A restaurant once beloved by famous people, such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Graham Greene. The restaurant maintains the original interior from the 1940s - 1950s.
  • Great Theatre of Havana - La Habana. Magnificent building in Neo-Baroque style, built in 1915.
  • Museo del Arte Colonial - La Habana. A museum of Cuban colonial art, set in beautifully restored historical city mansion (1720) the Military Governor of Cuba.
  • Museum of the Revolution - La Habana. A museum, located in the impressive, beautiful Presidential Palace, constructed in 1920.

Other monuments of architecture

Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos
Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos / Dieter Mueller, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Palacio Brunet - Sancti Spíritus, Trinidad. Ornate city mansion, built by sugar mill owner in the late 18th century. Now - Museo Romantico.
  • Palacio de Valle - Cienfuegos. Very ornate city mansion, built in 1917 in Neo-Gothic style.
  • Palacio Ferrer - Cienfuegos. Beautiful Neo-Classical city mansion, built in 1918.
  • Manaca-Iznaga Tower - Sancti Spíritus. Unusual structure - 45 m tall bell tower, built in 1816 in Manaca - Iznaga plantations. Ring of its bells marked the beginning and ending of the work in sugar plantations.

List of described attractions by provinces

Cuba is divided into 15 provinces and one special municipality - Isla de la Juventud:

Artemisa
Camagüey
Ciego de Ávila
Cienfuegos
Granma
Guantánamo
Holguín
Isla de la Juventud
La Habana
ArrowCathedral of HavanaChurches
Las Tunas
Matanzas
Mayabeque
Pinar del Rio
Sancti Spíritus
Santiago de Cuba
Villa Clara

Map of Cuba

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