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Baracoa: Cuba's Prime City

In addition to tourism program featuring sun and beaches, which are highly demanded by vacationers visiting Cuba, the largest Antillean Island boasts sites of high historic value, which are closely linked to the country's evolution.

One of these sites is in Cuba's eastern province of Guantánamo. It is a village founded by Conquistador Diego Velázquez between 1511 and 1512 with the original name of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa. It was the Island's first capital and the first archbishopric.

In addition to its high historic value, the Island's prime village is characterized by its people's affable nature and the beauty of the city, surrounded by mountains, rivers and exuberant vegetation.

The name of the village, Baracoa, comes from an aboriginal word meaning "presence of sea", a frank allusion to the presence of a marine atmosphere everywhere you go, in contrast with the mountains and rivers.

The natural landscape is complemented by a 575-meter-high flattop mountain known as Yunque de Baracoa, or Baracoa's Anvil, which takes its name because of its similarity with that tool used by ironsmiths.

Several rivers run through Baracoa, including the Toa, Cuba's biggest river, which has several waterfalls, being the 17-meter-high El Saltadero the most famous.

Baracoa Mountains.
City of Baracoa
Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil)

Access to the city can be an adventure, since travelers have to take a very peculiar road around the mountains, known as La Farola, which has 11 hanging bridges and whose highest point is Altos de Cotilla, which is 600 meters above sea level.

Visitors are surrounded by an atmosphere loaded with reminiscences from colonial times, including the famous Cruz de La Parra, which was built by the Spanish conquistadors during their first voyage to America, using local precious woods, and which was used by Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas to officiate masses.

The Spanish rule left its imprint in the city's buildings, many of which were constructed with quarry stones. That is the case of the colonial fortresses of El Castillo and La Punta, and the towers of Joa and the Cemetery.

The local people bear aboriginal features: sharp nose, straight hair, dark skin and short stature, so it is said that it is impossible to learn about the first inhabitants of the archipelago without visiting Cuba's prime village.

For vacationers, the city also treasures a very peculiar gastronomy, based on plants, with such dishes as El Bacán (a sort of plantain tamale), ajiaco (a vegetable soup) and fish cooked on coconut milk.

Dessert lovers can enjoy the so-called Cucuruchos, which are cone-like sweets made of coconut and pineapple and wrapped in royal palm leaves, as well as the famous chocolate, made of cocoa cultivated in the region.

Considered by many one of Cuba's most attractive cities, Baracoa patiently awaits the arrival of travelers for whom history and traditions are a must while enjoying leisure.

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