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Cuba: a Heritage City in the East

Cuba, the largest Antillean Island, major player in the international tourist scene, counts among its attractions with cities known for its heritage value and stories accumulated for centuries.

In that environment stands out in the eastern province of Guantanamo the city originally known as Our Lady of the Assumption of Baracoa, founded between 1511 and 1512 by Diego Velázquez, and became the first capital and first bishopric of the Caribbean island.

The name of the town, Baracoa, has its origin in an Aboriginal word meaning "presence of sea" referring by the original inhabitants to a marine atmosphere presence everywhere.

The natural landscape is complemented by a 575 meters high flattop mountain known as the Yunque (Anvil) de Baracoa, because of its similarity with that tool used by blacksmiths for their work.

Also, various water arteries cross the territory, including the Toa-considered the largest river of the island-, marked on their way through numerous waterfalls, the most famous known as El Saltadero, with 17 meters high.

The own access to the city (of 505 years of existence) is an adventure made by a very peculiar route that meanders between the mountains and goes by the name La Farola, with 11 suspension bridges and the most relevant point in Altos de Cotilla, more than 600 meters above sea level.

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

The time of Spanish rule left its mark on the buildings of the town, which include numerous stone buildings such as colonial fortresses of El Castillo and La Punta de Joa towers, as well as the Cemetery.

Visitors who arrive to the town fall into an atmosphere full of memories of the colonial era, including the famous Cruz de la Parra, manufactured by the Spaniards during the first trip to America with precious woods of the place and it was used to officiate by Fray Bartolome de las Casas.

For those interested in learning about the place is available Hotel La Rusa, characterized by specialists as small, intimate and cozy -of just 12 rooms- also located on the seafront and favored with immense panorama of blue waters.

The facility name comes from its former owner; a Russian based permanently in the city after much wandering trough countries and cities, and also inspired the novelist Alejo Carpentier for one of the characters of his novel “La Consagración de la Primavera”.

Also available is an extensive catalog of the local cuisine, based on plants and dishes like Bacán, kind of tamale green banana, chili or fish cooked with coconut milk.

Sweet lovers also have their place with the “Cucurucho” (Cornet), a conical packaging of yagua sheets and made of coconut and pineapple, as well as the famous chocolate made with cocoa grown in the territory.

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