Cuba's tourism industry, considered the fastest-growing sector in the national economy, has benefited from the many natural attractions of the Caribbean Island, including hundreds of kilometers of excellent beaches, exuberant vegetation, and rich flora and fauna.
Cuba's historic and cultural heritage, including its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture in several cities of the country, adds to the attractions of the leisure industry in the Island.
Many places in Cuba show the imprint of several centuries of Spanish colonization, which led to the foundation to many towns throughout the country.
One of those towns is the village of Nuestra Señora de Baracoa (Our Lady of the Assumption of Baracoa) –in eastern Guantánamo province-, which was founded between 1511 and 1512 by Conqueror Diego Velázquez and was Cuba's first capital and archbishopric.
Baracoa's name comes from an aboriginal word that means "presence of the sea", an open allusion to the beautiful seascape that characterizes the village, in contrast to the mountains and rivers that surround it.
Precisely, those who wish to visit Baracoa can stay at La Rusa Hotel, a small, intimate and cozy 12-room establishment with a breathtaking view of the sea.
The hotel was named after its owner, a Russian woman who settled in the city after wandering around many countries and cities, and who inspired Cuban author Alejo Carpentier to create one of the characters in his novel "La Consagración de la Primavera" (The Consecration of Spring).
As part of the hotel's tourist programs, guests can visit the Duana farm, where they can enjoy a wide variety of fruit trees that turn the place into the perfect scenario to enjoy exquisite dishes from Cuban cuisine, learn about countryside traditions and taste the magic cocoa fruit.
The natural landscape is complemented by a 575-meter flattop mountain known as Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa's Anvil), due to its similarity to the tool used by blacksmiths.
In addition, several rivers run through the region, including the Toa River, which the largest in Cuba and has many waterfalls, including El Saltadero, which is 17 meters high.
Access to the city is an adventure, since vehicles have to take a very peculiar road that winds around the mountains and is known as La Farola. The road has 11 hanging bridges and its highest point is Altos de Cotilla, which is more than 600 meters above sea level.
Spanish colonization left its imprint on architecture, including many buildings with stone façades such as El Castillo and La Punta fortresses, and the Joa and the Cemetery towers.