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Cienfuegos: Celebrating Its Bicentenary

The central Cuban province of Cienfuegos is on its way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its foundation, which took place in April 1819 by a group of immigrants of French origin.

Among the city's many attractions is the so-called José Martí Park, which is located in the site where the colony of Fernandina de Sagua was officially founded and where busts of stone and bronze are reminders of the most relevant people in the city.

In addition, the city has the only Triumphal Arch in Cuba, built in 1902, as well as the Tomás Terry Theater, one of the three most important theaters in the country in the 19th century and a silent witness of performances by world-renowned artists like Enrico Caruso.

The most emblematic building in the city is Palacio de Valle, funded by a rich Spanish citizen and built by an Italian engineer. The building's architecture combines gothic, romantic, Byzantine and baroque elements with a preponderant presence of the Mudejar style.

The city's environment is complemented by the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin, which is famous for its altar, designed with Corinthian elegance, and for a stain-glass portrait of the Twelve Apostles that was brought from France during the days of the Paris Commune.

The town was upgraded to a city in 1880 and a committee of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated its historic heart as a World Heritage, being the first among all Ibero-American and Caribbean cities founded in the 19th century to receive that title.

Bay of Cienfuegos
Sunset in Cienfuegos

Two dozen libraries, 11 museums, more than 30 movie theaters and five theaters are complemented by houses of culture, art galleries and monuments that perpetuate the best local traditions for Cuban and foreign visitors.

Among the most singular sites for visitors is the Reina Cemetery, built in 1830 and declared a National Monument. It is a true museum of funerary art and shows the burial system of vertical niches that was used during the Spanish colonial period.

Another relevant monument is the Tomás Acea Cemetery, which was built in 1926 and which experts consider the necropolis with the longest history in Cuba and whose main entrance is a replica of the Parthenon.

The province also holds natural treasures at the Botanical Gardens, which was built in 1901 and holds a collection of palm trees that ranks among the world's top ten.

Covering 97 hectares, the Botanical Gardens holds about 2,000 species (including 70 percent of exotic species), 23 varieties of bamboo, 65 of jagüey and 280 specimens of cork and big-belly palm trees.

The city is also the venue of international nautical events and treasures rich architectural values, as well as legends that stimulate the interest of foreign visitors.

One of those legends is linked to the Guanaroca Lagoon, a reservoir of brackish water into which the Arimao River flows and which is based in the aboriginal history of the Caribbean Island.

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