Cuba, with a privileged location at the gates of the Caribbean, is committed to the expansion of tourism in constant connection with the region.
In this environment, the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, the second in importance in the country, is also known as the capital of the Caribbean, due to its geographical position and its centenarian history.
Founded in 1514 by Conqueror Diego Velazquez, Santiago de Cuba served as country's capital until 1607, a period during which it was affected by innumerable disasters, ranging from an earthquake that devastated the city in 1675 to the predatory action by corsairs and pirates.
Moreover, Santiago de Cuba is the traditional venue of the ExpoCaribe fair, an opportunity for the growth of commercial links between the eastern Cuban provinces and the rest of the country and foreign companies.
This event is the ideal setting for the exhibition and promotion of products, in order to stimulate strategic agreements with the Caribbean region, sustainable development and the improvement of the quality of life of their respective peoples.
Santiago de Cuba also hosts the so-called Fiesta del Fuego (Fire Festival), which enhances the cultural and historic values of Caribbean countries.
In downtown, with an extraordinary variety of museums, is located the old Plaza de Armas (Arms Square), which is the heart of the city and it is known as the Cespedes Park in honor of the Father of the Cuban Homeland, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.
In its surroundings, visitors stumble upon several examples of colonial architecture, including the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption, which was built in the 16th century and that keeps in its museum a painting on a tablet, which many experts consider the oldest in Cuba.
There is also the oldest house in the archipelago, the house of Diego Velazquez, which later became the Contracting and Foundry House of the Crown. It was built with stone blocks and still shows some of its original elements such as the alfarje ceiling and Moorish lattices.
Memories of colonial architecture also flank Heredia Street, where numerous cultural activities take visitors to meet the best exponents of Cuban musical genres like son, bolero and trova.
Among the institutions and museums stands out the centenarian Bacardi Museum, the oldest in Cuba, which holds a collection of weapons that recall the independence struggles in the country, artifacts of Cuban aborigines and even Inca and Egyptian mummies.
In the surroundings of the city, the so-called Gran Piedra (Great Stone), registered as the largest in the world in the Guinness Book of Records, stands majestic and imposing, with its nearly 70,000 tons at 1,220 meters above sea level.
In addition, vacationers can visit the Baconao Park, a biosphere reserve that is famous for its stone zoo in the Prehistoric Valley and it is complemented by attractions such as the Transport Museum, the Aquarium and the Prado de las Esculturas (Sculptures Promenade).
Farther on is the Sanctuary of Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Cuba's patron saint, where every year, thousands of people go in search of hope to realize their dreams.