Holguin, capital city of the eastern namesake Cuban province, is about to celebrate the three centuries of its founding, by offering tourists a wide variety of opportunities.
As the city nears the anniversary in 2020, it boasts a mixture of Spanish style colonial architecture, American-like chalets, outlying traditional neighborhoods and a truly Ibero-American cultural spirit.
Also known as “The City of Parks”, given the abundance of such places inside its boundaries, it also features plenty of fine art galleries, to which classical music, ballet and opera add a unique flavor.
Holguín was founded as San Isidoro de Holguín, after Francisco García de Holguín, who founded the first local hamlet together with his wife, around 1545.
Two centuries after it became the fourth Cuban city to be given such condition, as there were by then some 1,200 inhabitants living there, scattered in some 200 basic houses plus a public school.
By 1863 it had some 76 sugar mills, some 750 tobacco plantations and hundreds of farm estates where the land was tilled by slaves, in what was considered then a sign of development.
Holguin is the location of Bariay, where Christopher Columbus landed in his search for India, but came instead to a lush and paradise-like landscape, surrounded by virgin beaches, all of which prompted him to consider the place as “The most beautiful land ever seen by human eyes”.
The province is seat to 14 leading cities, among which stand out Banes – named as Cuba’s archeological capital -, and Gibara, twice as appealing on account of its well-preserved Spanish-style colonial architecture.
Once one of the island’s main eastern ports for slave and sugar trading, Holguín is today a location filled with remains of Spanish fortresses, built to guard it against attacks by pirates and corsairs, who were lured by the colony’s riches.
There are a few keys devoted to tourism, coupled by natural parks and centers for non-hotel activities, which attract thousands of travelers every year.
Adding to attractions, there are four dozen superb beaches, namely Guardalavaca, Estero Ciego, Esmeralda and Don Lino resorts.
Trekking lovers can find appealing areas bordering the Sierra Cristal Mountains, which harbor plenty of wildlife and flora, many of them endemic, as in the cases of palm trees, coconut palm trees, tropical fruits, ferns and precious wood trees.