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Jewel of Caribbean holidays to be Revamped with Restoration project

  • 08-Oct-09 13:51
  • Cuba
  • Holiday Industry

Cuba holidays at the most western city of Santiago are to be revamped with a major restoration project taking place at the heart of the city's historic centre. The province known as the "Jewel of Caribbean" is the country's second largest city

Jewel of Caribbean holidays to be Revamped with Restoration project

Often called the ‘Jewel of the Caribbean’; the Cuban city of Santiago de Cuba is now undergoing a massive restoration project to improve the infrastructure of Cuba holidays here and restore the old age beauty of its historic centre. The move comes after a government interest to drive more tourism towards this historic World Heritage Site that is also Cuba’s second larges and most important city.

Putting this city on the limelight by revamping its image has the main intention of promoting Cuba holidays here but also the secondary benefit of improving the area of the surrounding residential district in the historic quarter. At the ‘Los Maceo’ district for example some 80 buildings are being partially restored thanks to a program financed by the government with help from the province of Galicia in Spain, which includes the purchase of material for roofing and electrical and sanitary installations.

The residential district takes up over 51%of the 320 hectares of total surface area of the historic core of the city, which was originally founded in 1514. A sociological survey taken in 2000 revealed that over 52% of the residents were born in the historic quarter, and nearly 80% are Santiago natives.

“I love this place; it’s where I grew up and where I’m now raising my four children. Ours is a good neighbourhood, in a good location; everything’s close by, and the people are great.” says Isabel Garcia, a local resident who affirms she wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.

The second most important city in Cuba after Havana, and the country’s first capital back in the 1500s, Santiago the Cuba is so much more than just ‘Cuba’s second city’. Scenically wedged between the sea and the mountains, the city enjoys a privileged location that quality that according to Garcia “puts the city in a constant dialogue with the natural environment it is set in. Which is why we call this, the scenic city.”

And there are still more reasons yet for this city becoming the hottest spot for Cuba holidays. Its central streets, often winding and sloping, turn suddenly into natural scenic lookouts that provide spectacular glimpses of the city from different perspectives, allowing viewers to rest their eyes on an old building still in need of repair, or on the bay’s deep Caribbean waters, or farther inland to the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.

For those interested in a little bit of history during their Cuba holidays, it was in this mountain chain that the guerrilla warfare commanded by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara was played out between the years 1956 and 1958, before the final victory of the Cuban Revolution on Jan. 1, 1959. Santiago’s revolutionary history earned it the name of ‘Heroic City of the Republic of Cuba’.

The rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean island’s colonial period is reflected in the unique architecture of this eastern city, which holds constructions from the 16th through the 19th centuries, including what is said to be the oldest-standing house built by Europeans in the Americas - the residence of Diego Velasquez, one of the earliest Spanish conquistadors, who in 1511 became Cuba’s first colonial governor.

The Conservation Office was created in 1996 with the mission of protecting the city’s scenic, urban and architectonic treasures, as well as recovering and preserving its traditions and history. The new master plan - described “a key working guide” will definitely open up this glorious city to a range of new tourists from all over the world who want a taste of Santiago during their for Cuba holidays.

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