Cuban provinces: Sancti Spíritus (Trinidad)
Located at the center of the island, the province of Sancti Spíritus has the privilege of being the only territory of the Cuban archipelago where two of the first seven villas were founded at the beginning of the XVI century by the Spanish discoverer, Diego Velázquez: Espíritu Santo and Santísima Trinidad.
Both of them were born in 1514, and one of the 14 provinces of the political and administrative division of the Republic of Cuba was named after Espíritu Santo. It is a region with a clayish and fertile soil, whose 15% is covered by one of the most important mountainous regions of the country, Sierra del Escambray which, among other attributes, treasures peaceful Caribbean beaches all along the coasts of the Península of Ancón.
The capital city, Sancti Spíritus, was invariably settled on the margins of a river, and it preserves in its historic center buildings that show a divers variety of styles which have notably enriched for centuries the unruly distribution of its urban area. Among the most outstanding constructions we can find the Iglesia Parroquial Mayor, Teatro Principal and the bridge over Yayabo River itself.
Nevertheless, Trinidad –fairly considered a museum city– is one of the cities in the Amercian Continent with the most complete and better preserved colonial architecture areas, considered by UNESCO in 1988 and declared World Heritage.
A cross under the shadow of a Jigüe tree reminds us of the place where Fray Juan de Tesin presumably said the first mass of the future villa, during the Christmas of 1513. Not far from there, La Plaza Mayor and La Iglesia Mayor de la Santísima Trinidad were built afterwards. The second one treasures among its most valuable pieces the famous Cristo de Vera Cruz and an altar made of marble, unique of its kind in the island, which was dedicated to the cult to La Virgen de la Misericordia (the Virgin of Mercy).
This city invites visitors to walk on its quiet stone streets and several squares; discover at every step stories jealously preserved in half a dozen museums or roomy and cool mansions from the centuries XVIII and XIX –full of balustrades, railings and grating admirably made of metal; and roofs covered with Cuban made tiles–, where you will be able to breath the same attractive atmosphere that centuries ago brought important visitors to this very place, like for example the wise man Alejandro de Humboldt.
The vast and near Valley of San Luis, also known as Valley of the Mills, shows the splendor that the sugar industry gave to this villa at the end of the XVII century. This Valley, declared World Heritage by UNESCO, is also an important ecological reserve.
It is said that at the time of its highest splendor, this area was the main producer of sugar in the country. There were here dozens of mills that could be seen from the top of the Tower of Manaca-Iznaga, 45 meters high and whose bell used to announce the start and end of the work sessions in the plantations of this sweet gramineous. 75 ruins of mills, summer houses, living quarters of slaves and other facilities related to the production of this highly demanded produce have been preserved until today.
There are less than a dozen kilometers between the historic center of Trinidad and the beaches of the Península of Ancón, washed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and considered among the best ones in the south coast of the island. Its sea bottoms, irregular and with notable concentrations of black coral, can be explored in more than twenty diving sites; some of them near Cayo Blanco, an isle about 45 minutes away by boat from the Port of Casilda.
Also close to this colonial city, the mountainous region of Escambray invites daring visitors to intense days of activities in the National Park of Topes de Collantes, located 800 meters above sea level and where Salto del Caburní (National Monument) stands out among numerous attractions. On the other, this place also provides visitors with the opportunity of improving their quality of life in an ideal environment that also has a facility for health and pleasure known as Kurhotel.
Meanwhile, in the central region of the province you will be able to see the largest artificial lake of Cuba, the Zaza dam. Its impounding capacity surpasses the one thousand million cubic meters of this valuable liquid, which constitutes a perfect place for sport fishing, especially for trout, whose sizes rate them among the best ones at the international level.
To the north, Caguanes National Park, recently declared by UNESCO a reserve of the Biosphere, treasures an important group of caves with plenty of interesting archeological sites and under water caves; natural habitat of a variety of fresh water sponges that can only be seen in this place.