Beautiful colonial town
When you enter Trinidad you won’t help but feel you’ve gone back two centuries in time. Beautifully preserved colonial buildings wherever you turn, coupled with unique museums housing immaculately preserved time pieces, will add to the awe-inspiring experience of travelling back in time.
There’s little here to remind you that you are in fact on the 21st century, and remaining aware of the current times will be made all the harder by the sounds of horses’ hooves treading the cobbled pavement, the cries of local vendors selling the morning bread on their bicycles and the surreal quietness and stillness of this beautiful small town – it all adds to the “out-of-this-world” feel.
A living colonial museum, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1988, this is one of the world’s most exceptionally preserved colonial beauties. Expect to be wowed at every turn by some grand colonial structure, an open-door museum, an old horse carriage, or a shiny old American car from the 50s.
Otherwise known as the heart of Trinidad, the central square of Plaza Mayor is the city’s main viewpoint, from which spectacular sunrises and sunsets can be observed. A very photogenic area, those wanting to take a memory of the place can obtain truly magnificent snapshots, especially at dawn – the light at this time of day is just perfect!
If you think the area is crowded by tourists, think again, although many people now come to visit, most tourist groups are here between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and after this time you’ll feel like you have this area all to yourself. Unchanged for centuries, this beautiful square looks beautifully deserted in the evenings.
Plaza Mayor is also the place to head to see some of the town’s nightlife, enjoy the local traditional music, and absorb some of the culture, dancing and folklore before heading to La Cueva discotheque, that is, of course, if you want some nightclub action during your time in Trinidad.
People, Culture and Lifestyle
The towns people of Trinidad are mostly humble countrymen or "campesinos" as they are called locally. Whilst some rent out their homes as authentic colonial "guest houses" (casas particulares - which are practically living museums themselves) for tourists to sleep in during a brief stay, others live off raising livestock, farming and other agricultural pursuits.
The lifestyle is decidedly laid back and quiet, with exception of the odd cry of youngsters playing in the street during the afternoon, or the call of the local vendors, announcing their trade as they pass by the streets or even the fleeting bird in the morning. Beyond those just described earlier there is hardly ever a noise to be heard in this sleepy town.
But quietness and serenity don't equate to a lack of cultural riches or livelihood. Whilst during the day you'll hardly hear a sound, as the evening casts its shadow over the town different places come to life for dancing, mingling and drinking, such as La Casa de La Musica and the surroundings of Plaza Mayor.
Museums and Art Galleries
While many things may not abound in such a tiny town, there is one thing there is certainly no shortage of here, and that is museums. There is truly an abundance of these, especially for such a small town. You have four history and art museums, two science museums and one art gallery and one art gallery to choose from.
The most famous (and most beautiful of these) is the Museo Romantico (Romantic Museum), displaying rare 18th century antiques, invaluable original furniture and art pieces. With the layout of a former colonial house, this museum perfectly portrays the lives of the wealthy slave-owners during the colonial era. It is housed with Palacio Brunuet, a magnificent structure that dates back to the 1740s.
Other museums include the Museo Historico Municipal (boasting a stunning period art collection), the Museo de Arquitectura Trinitaria (the former mansion of the Sanchez Iznaga family, an influential and affluent family in the 1700s), Museo de Arqueologia "Guamuhaya" (housing pre-Colombian relics and local flora and fauna displays), the Fight Against the Bandits Museum (containing various artefacts belonging to the warriors that fought against the CIA-founded invasion), the Museo Historico Principal (the former home of the Borrell family, boasting a tower viewpoint offering amazing views over the town) and the Trinidad Art Gallery, displaying an extensive selection of paintings, ceramics, hand-made jewellery and art pieces.
The Escambray Mountains on one side, the Caribbean Sea on the other
Beyond its stunning collection of immaculate colonial properties, there is more to Trinidad than meets the eye. Its location, for example, is as unique as the town itself.
Perfectly cocooned away amidst one of Cuba's largest mountain ranges and the Caribbean Sea, the city offers more than sightseeing and culture. In the Escambray Mountains you can visit amazing natural sites such as the Tope de Collantes nature reserve and the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills), another UNESCO World Heritage Site giving you a real insight into the colonial sugar trade.
On the other side, Trinidad faces the Caribbean Sea, with the popular Casilda Bay attracting snorkelers and divers alike, while Playa Ancon is just a short 15-minute drive away (local buses can take you there) and offers pristine golden sands azure, crystalline waters ideal for bathing, swimming and relaxing.
Trinidad at Night
While most of this sleepy town remains subdued and sleepy well into the night hours, there are a few places to enjoy authentic Cuban rhythms, watch live music performances, dance and have a good time.
Surrounding Plaza Mayor, you'll find all of Trinidad's nightlife spots. The most popular and famous of these is La Casa de La Musica, offering great dancefloor space where you can join in the locals or if you prefer dancing under the stars, you'll find the Plaza Mayor Square overflowing with local dancers as well.
Other nightclub hotspots in Trinidad include the Palenque de los Congos Reales with an open-air stage hosting regular performances of Afro-Cuban music, while La Casa de la Trova is the place to try out a few dance steps and listen to local bands (Casa Fisher is a similar nearby spot but not as popular).