Santa Clara Cuba

Santa Clara Cuba is located a bit east of the center of the country and is the capital of the Villa Clara Province. The city has a fascinating history in its own right, and it has played an important part in the history of the island. In 1689, 37 people left the town of Remedios, located to the northwest near the coast, and with 138 other people founded this city further inland. The people from Remedios left because of constant harassment by buccaneers and pirates, while the other 138 people were members of two families who lived in the region already. Until 1977, the city was in Las Villas Province. In that year, the province was subdivided into three new provinces: Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos, and Villa Clara.

Parque de Vidal
Parque de Vidal

The city of Santa Clara is most famous because of its association with the legendary Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Santa Clara Cuba is laid out in the classic pattern to found in Spain as well as most Latin American countries colonized by the Spanish: as a square pattern with a central plaza, which today is called the Parque Vidal.

Che Guevara Mausoleum
Che Guevara Mausoleum

The main square is home to the Che Guevara Mausoleum, contains the remains of one of Cuba's most beloved figures and sixteen of his fellow revolutionaries who were killed in the in 1967 during the insurgency in Bolivia. The last and pivotal battle of the Cuban Revolution was fought here late in 1958 with two divisions headed by Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. They captured the city from Batista's military, and the military dictator fled to Portugal hours later.

Club Mejunje
Club Mejunje

Also in the Santa Clara Cuba square is a statue of Marta Abreu, who contributed to numerous philanthropic projects in the city. Around the square are a number of landmarks, including the Santa Clara Libre that was once a Hilton hotel and boasts a rooftop bar with wonderful views of the city as well as numerous bullet holes on its façade from the Battle of Santa Clara. Also here is the Los Caneyes, probably the best of the Santa Clara hotels. The Teatro de La Caridad is also located here. It was built entirely by funds provided by Marta Abreu in 1885 and is one of the eight grand theatres of colonial Cuba. The others are located in Santiago de Cuba, Pinar de Rio, Havana, Trinidad, Camaguey, and Mantanzas. There are frequent musical performances, concerts, and other special events held in the theatre as well as in the park.

Club Mejunje is another of the local landmarks. Mejunje is Spanish for "mishmash" or "concoction," and that is definitely what is on the menu at this nightclub. In addition to traditional Cuban dance and music, there are poetry readings, rock bands, and even a drag queen show—every Saturday night, Mejunje hosts what is Cuba’s only official drag show. Its eclectic list of entertainment also includes children’s theater, concerts, and disco nights, and it’s a must-see, even if you’ve only got one night in town.

Cuba Monuments
Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado

Other Santa Clara Cuba attractions include the Armored Train Park, which is home to the Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado. A famous part of the Battle of Santa Clara was the derailment of an armored train, which Guevara accomplished using a bulldozer from the United States. The train is now a museum with artifacts from the Revolution in the cars. Overlooking the city are three small hills called Loma del Capiro, which were used as a Guevara hideout and strategic lookout. The view from the summit, which can be reached by stairs, is lovely with the city, the lush Santa Clara Valley, and a large plantation of tamarind trees. The Constantino Perez factory that produces a brand of Cuban cigars is located here, and it's possible to tour it.

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