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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: Urban and Leisure Options in the Caribbean

Cuba, a tourist destination par excellence in the Caribbean, complements its sun and beach attractions with options involving the architectural richness of its cities.

First-class beach resorts like Varadero, in the western area of the island, and Santa Lucía or Guardalavaca, in eastern Cuba, concentrate the interest of many vacationers.

Nevertheless, cities contribute the added value which the tourist industry needs, and in this sense, Havana plays a key role as one of the most important examples of architecture in the island.

The city has been characterized, since the late 16th century, by its own features although with a strong Spanish influence.

Havana’s fortress system, led by the emblematic Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro, comprised nine large constructions to make up –as experts say– the most outstanding complex of its kind in Spanish America.

Capitolio. Dome.
Detail of the ceiling.
Capitolio. Front view.

Likewise, close to 140 buildings, of the constructions located in the city’s historic heart, date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, while about 200 were built in the 18th century and over 460 in the 19th; thus achieving a very attractive combination for the most demanding tastes.

Several distinctive architectural pieces in the city are well preserved like the famous Prado promenade and the well-known Alameda de Paula, the latter built in the second half of the 18th century; both places were of inevitable transit for those who lived in the city during colonial time.

Meanwhile, the village of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa (Our Lady of the Assumption of Baracoa), founded by Governor Diego Velázquez between 1511 and 1512 in the eastern area of the island, came to be the first Cuban capital and diocese.

In the country’s central area, the city of Cienfuegos stands out for its two dozen libraries, 11 museums, over 30 movie theaters and five theaters; all complemented by cultural institutions, art galleries and monuments which reflect the Cuban traditions for the enjoyment of domestic and foreign visitors.

This urban scenery also includes the City of Camagüey, capital of the province by the same name, which was founded under the name of Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe.

Camagüey is also known as “La Ciudad de los Tinajones” (The City of Large Earthenware Jars) since this type of earthenware container was widely used centuries ago to store rainwater for various uses; nowadays they are mainly a decoration in gardens and parks.

In addition, the mountain ecosystems in the country are included in the dynamic growth of the sector and many options already involve tours and stays in these areas.

The relief of the country, including four mountain ranges which cover approximately 21 percent of the island’s surface and comprises 37 percent of the woodland, provides a significant potential for the activity.

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