Duration: 2 Days
For those who want to get more than a glimpse of Santiago and enjoy the privilege of spending a night under this city's starry skies, then this is just the tour for you!
Come to discover the city that's the cradle of famous Cuban rhythms such as the Son and the Bolero, and also the hometown of many of the members of the world famous Buena Vista Social Club. Come to the land of the mountain singers, as they are popularly called in the lyrics of a song that's more like a popular anthem amongst the people.
But before you head for this magical city there will be a stopover at the province of Bayamo, the third of the first six Cuban cities founded by Spanish conqueror Diego Velazquez. During the 16th century this city was one of the most important agricultural and commercial settlements in the islands, driving a thriving contraband that made it the leading town in Cuba at the turn of the 17th century.
The city carried out a great clandestine traffic with Curacao, Jamaica and other foreign islands throughout the 17th and 18th century making being also the capital of the First Republic in Arms during Cuba's wars of independence later on in the 19th century. It was in this city that rebels decided to burn the village down before having to give it up to the colonists. It was also in this city that Cuba's National Anthem was born, also known as "The Hymn of Bayamo", being this also the place where it was first composed, played and sung.
During your time at Bayamo you will enjoy a walk through its main Boulevard making a stop at the Hymn Square, where the national anthem was first played and sung.
After a short stop for lunch you will begin the journey towards Santiago de Cuba where your first visit will be at The Church of The Virgin of Charity (Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre), Cuba's patron saint.
The national sanctuary honouring this saint is located in a breathtaking mountain region near the town of El Cobre. During the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1998 and specifically during his time in Santiago he honoured this place by crowning the image of the Caridad del Cobre Virgin as Cuba's patron virgin for Catholics and in front of its image a golden rosary was placed.
For your night at Santiago accommodation will be at the wonderful 5* Melia Santiago Hotel. After some refreshments and dining at this hotel you will be taken to the fabulous Santiago's Troubadour's House where the most famous representatives of this music genre have played, including the ever popular stars of Buena Vista Social Club. Whatever your choice, prepare for a magical evening filled with Cuba's most authentic expressions of music and dance.
And after dancing the night away and having a good rest at our Melia hotel, the adventure restarts the next morning right after breakfast. You will begin with a visit to the incredible castle of Sand Pedro de la Roca also popularly known as "El Morro". This magnificent fortress stands as a powerful reminder of the city's colonial era, built at the narrow entrance of Santiago bay as a defence system to protect the city from pirates and intruders. The castle is now home to the fantastic Museum of Piracy with a unique exhibition on piracy, colonialism and slavery.
Your next stop will be at the iconic Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, a wonderful masterpiece of colonial architecture in which Cuba's national hero, revolutionary poet and writer Jose Marti lies. His tomb is an incredible monument in the form of a hexagonal tower with each side representing one of Cuba's six original cities. This outstanding cemetery also features an incredible memorial dedicated to the memory of Cuban soldiers who died fighting in the Angola war.
And your last visit will be at the Moncada garrison, the historical building that revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro raided in order to rebel against Cuba's former regime. These bullet ridden-barracks are now the historical Museum of 26th July, named after the date of the attacks.
Your next activity before heading back to Holguin will be a stopover for delicious lunch. And after the refreshments you will enjoy some free time for walking at your leisure around Santiago Central Park, the centre of Santiago's life where you will also find the Metropolitan Cathedral, the oldest in Cuba.
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