After Genoese Admiral Christopher Columbus discovered the Cuban archipelago, the Spanish Crown embarked in founding the first villages on the Island, as part of a process to consolidate its positions throughout the territory.
The period of Conqueror Diego Velázquez, who arrived in Cuba in 1510 and was the Island's first governor until his death in 1524, is marked by the foundation of the first seven villages, which are major historic centers today.
The first village was Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa, which was founded in 1511-12 and was the first capital and archbishopric of the largest Antillean Island.
Currently known as Baracoa, the town's name comes from an aboriginal word meaning "presence of sea".
Bayamo, the current capital of the province of Granma, was founded in 1513 as San Salvador de Bayamo, during the Spaniards' advance to the west. This village played a major role in Cuba's war of independence in the 19th century.
Bayamo, the capital of the First Republic in Arms, was burned down by its dwellers, who made that decision instead of surrendering the village to the Spanish conquerors.
The city of "tinajones" (large earthenware jars), Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, was initially founded as a coastal village in 1514 and later reestablished in its current location, because it soon aroused the greed of corsairs and pirates.
The fourth village founded by the Spaniards was Santiago de Cuba in 1514. It replaced Baracoa as the Island's capital in 1607, due to its excellent geographic location on the Caribbean Sea. The city holds Diego Velazquez's home, which is the oldest house in Cuba.
That same year, the Spanish conquerors founded the village of the Holy Trinity, or Santísima Trinidad, where there is a blend of architectural styles from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. For that reason, UNESCO declared the city Humankind's Heritage.
The city's attractions are complemented by the world-famous Valle de los Ingenios, or Sugarmill Valley, which is regarded as a true museum on Cuba's sugar industry in a fertile region for agriculture, both in ancient times and today.
The Villa del Espíritu Santo - today Sancti Spiritus - was originally established in the first half of 1514 on the banks of the Tuinicú River, and it was moved to the banks of the Yayabo River in 1522.
The city is a true historic sample, since it treasures high architectural values, cultural traditions and natural beauties, thus creating a perfect harmony for visitors.
San Cristóbal de La Habana, which is Cuba's capital today, was the seventh village founded by the Spaniards on their way to the west. These villages paved the way to develop other territories throughout the archipelago, marked by the imprint of a centuries-old history.