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Cuba: 507 Years of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Cuba's eastern region holds Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa (Our Lady of Assumption of Baracoa), which was the first village founded by the Spanish conquistadors and will turn 507 years.

Founded by Conqueror Diego Velázquez in 1511, Baracoa became the first capital and first bishopric of the country, and its name comes from an aboriginal word that means "presence of the sea", in frank allusion by its original settlers to the presence of a marine environment on all sides, contrasting with the mountains and rivers.

In addition, the natural landscape is complemented by a flattened mountain that is 575 meters high and that is known as Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa's Anvil), due to its similarity to that tool used by blacksmiths for their work.

El Yunque served as a refuge for aboriginal people and runaway African slaves, and its slopes hold the ruins of farmhouses built by French settlers who arrived in Cuba from Haiti.

Several rivers run through the territory, including the Toa River, which is considered the largest in Cuba and which has several waterfalls, the most famous of which is known as El Saltadero and it is 17 meters high.

Baracoa has offers several natural and cultural attractions that motivate visitors to learn about the place, its rivers, beaches and people, its authentic cuisine in which the traditions of coconut and chocolate have been preserved.

Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil)
Baracoa Mountains.
River and mountains in Baracoa.

Visitors are enveloped in an atmosphere that is full of memories from the colonial era, including the famous Cruz de La Parra, built of local precious timber by the Spaniards during their first trip to the Americas and used by Fray Bartolomé de las Casas to officiate mass. The Cruz de Parra is the only one that remains of 29 built by the famous conqueror Christopher Columbus during his four voyages to the Americas.

The Spanish rule left its imprint on the buildings of the town, including several edifices made of stonework as the colonial fortresses known as El Castillo and La Punta, the towers of Joa and the cemetery.

For vacationers, the city also holds a very peculiar gastronomy based on plants, with dishes such as Bacán, a kind of green plantain tamal, ajiaco or fish cooked with coconut milk.

The local flora is rich, divers and endemic, with conifers, royal palms, cocoa and coconut crops and major reserves of hard and precious timber.

Meanwhile, the fauna is privileged by the presence of the Cuban solenodon (almiqui), an endangered living fossil, mollusks such as Polymita picta (which, due to its chromatic variety, is considered the most beautiful snail on Earth) and other invertebrates.

Parrots, Cuban parakeets, woodpeckers, thrushes, manatees, amphibians and reptiles also stand out in the region's extensive animal biodiversity to the delight of nature enthusiasts.

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