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Cienfuegos: The Pearl of the South

Cienfuegos province, in central Cuba, treasures a one-of-a-kind combination of nature, culture and history, in addition to a capital city that is full of attractions and legends that turn it into The Pearl of the South.

It was founded in 1819 as Villa de Fernandina de Jagua by Mr. Louis D`Clouet and Pietre under a hibiscus tree from which the first blocks that made up the city`s nucleus were designed.

Around that point, currently located at the José Martí Park, the most important official, religious and domestic institutions of the village were built, as well as broad symmetrical streets.

Another relevant monument, the Tomás Acea Cemetery, is considered by experts the necropolis with the longest history in Cuba. Its large gate is a replica of the Parthenon and was built in 1926.

In 1902, the only Triumphal Arch in Cuba was built in Cienfuegos, where there are other architectural masterpieces such as the Tomás Terry Theater, one of three most important theaters in the country in the 19th century, where world-renowned artists like Enrico Caruso have performed.

The most emblematic building in Cienfuegos is Palacio de Valle (Valle`s Palace), whose construction was financed by a rich Spaniard and was built by an Italian engineer. The building combines elements of the Gothic, Romantic, Byzantine and baroque architectural styles, with a strong influence from the Mudejar style.

Sunset in Cienfuegos
Botanical Gardens in Cienfuegos
Botanical Gardens in Cienfuegos

The city`s environment is complemented by the Cathedral of Purísima Concepción, which is famous for its Corinthian-style altar and the Twelve Apostles in a stained-glass window brought from France during the days of the Paris Commune.

Nature is also present in Cienfuegos, whose Botanical Gardens, founded in 1901, treasures a collection of palm trees that is among the world`s most important ones.

The gardens, which covers an area of 97 hectares, holds 2,000 plant species (70 percent of which are exotic), 23 varieties of bamboos, 65 of jagüey trees and 280 cork and bellied palm trees.

There are many natural attractions in the region, especially the Bay of Cienfuegos, a pillar of port and tourist development, in addition to Sierra de Trinidad, whose highest mountain is Pico San Juan (1,150 meters above sea level).

In addition, a vast fluvial network covers the territory with rivers like Damují, Caonao, Arimao, Yaguanabo and Hanabanilla, whose names are reminders of the aboriginal people who lived in the Cuban archipelago more than five centuries ago.

Twenty libraries, 11 museums, more than 30 movie theaters and five theaters, in addition to community culture houses, art galleries and monuments, complement the province`s cultural options for tourists.

Those who visit Cienfuegos also learn about Jagua, who, according to indigenous legends, was the deity who taught them how to fish, hunt and farm.

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