Lovingly referred to as the ‘Museum City of Cuba,’ Trinidad provides a perfectly preserved window into the country’s storied past. And with imminent change on the horizon, there is no better time than now to go explore the most beautiful colonial city in Cuba.
The legendary cities of Cuba are bursting with authentic character and charm, but as I wandered along the cobblestone streets of Trinidad, past pastel-coloured colonial buildings with red-tiled rooftops and horse drawn carts, it was clear why this town is a favourite among photographers. To say Trinidad is photogenic is an understatement!
In the charming Plaza Mayor, the golden-hued Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad stands proud with the imposing tower of St. Francis of Assisi in the background. Stroll beyond the main square to discover galleries, paladares (family-run restaurants), bars (try their local beer, Bruja) and outdoor markets selling an array of handcrafted goods. I especially admired the talent of a young Cuban who made unique wooden cigar cases, many with “El Che” depicted on them.
Founded by the Spaniards in 1514, Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in 1988. It is home to many beautiful mansions and small palaces, relics from the wealthy plantation owners who once dominated the sugar trade. Today, they house cultural and government offices. At the Palacio Cantero (the Trinidad General Municipal Museum) that once belonged to plantation owner Justo Germán Cantero, I climbed its bell tower that led to panoramic views of the city with the jutting tower of St. Francis of Assisi surrounded by the emerald Escambray mountains and the Caribbean Sea.
This is the land of sugar plantations. In the early 19th-century there were 56 plantations outside the city, where I headed out to visit the Manaca Iznaga Tower. The pathway that leads to the tower is lined with vendors selling the most beautifully handcrafted table cloths, purses and clothing. After admiring their handiwork, I climbed the 137 steps to the top of the tower that once served as the lookout point for slave owners to keep watch over their sugarcane fields. Thankfully, it now serves as a lovely belvedere from which to take in glorious views over the Iznaga Valley.
While I did not stay overnight in Trinidad, I would suggest the 5 star Grand Hotel Iberostar where I enjoyed a delicious lunch. The 40-room boutique-style property operates at full capacity, so book quickly. If you prefer a more authentic option, then book a casas particulares – private rooms in Cuban homes where you can truly experience Cuba like a local. Whether you choose to stay overnight or embark on an excursion for the day, take some time to explore the ‘time-capsule’ beauty of Trinidad.
For more information, visit www.gocuba.ca.
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