Fun Facts about Trinidad Cuba
Trinidad is the third largest city on the island. Its historic core has been beautifully preserved, and the city boasts Cuba’s largest percentage of antique buildings and public squares. It is the magnificent ensemble of Spanish colonial buildings in the city and the living museum of the Valle Ingenios that provide the main attractions for visitors. Together, the city and the valley comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Ingenios” is the Spanish word for factories, and the valley features the ruins of 75 sugar factories and other buildings associated with sugar production, mansions, and slave barracks. Within this landscape is the former sugar plantation of the Manaca-Iznaga family, one of the wealthiest of the sugar baron families. On the former sugar plantation grounds is the famous Manaca-Iznaga Tower. Built in 1816, it is nearly 150 feet high and boasts seven stories. The ringing of its three bells in various combinations signaled the start and end of work, holidays, sounded the alert for runaway slaves or slave rebellion, and warned of invasion by pirates. Today you can climb to the top of the tower for incredible views of the valley, and enjoy cocktails in the former plantation mansion. There is a vintage steam train leaving Trinidad twice daily that will take you through the valley, making stops along the way.
Must See Sites
All major streets in Trinidad lead to the elegant central Plaza Mayor dominated by the campanile of the Church and Convent of San Francisco. The church was built in 1813, fell into disrepair and was almost completely demolished in 1920, leaving only the bell tower and a few monastery buildings. Many of the plaza’s lovely eighteenth- and nineteenth-century mansions are today museums, including the Municipal History Museum, called the Cantero Palace and which was one of the largest and grandest of the mansions facing the plaza, and today offers a great view of the plaza. The Brunet Palace also occupies a prominent place in the plaza, and today serves as a museum that primarily displays the opulent possessions of the former owners. Both buildings still have original frescoes, marble floors, and hand-painted earthenware tiles. You will enjoy strolling through the plaza, with its central gardens, cobbled pavement, and delightful colonial doorways.
Other than the Iberostar in the city center and a casa particular in town, you will find several Trinidad hotels and accommodation options on beautiful Playa Ancon. This beach is only about seven miles south of the city. It is more than two miles long and has crystal-clear waters and sugary white sand fringed by palm trees. The majority of the hotels and beach resorts here are all-inclusive. While this does help travelers save money and keep on a budget, it can also encourage them to stay put and not experience other parts of the island. It is worth skipping some of the included meals in order to experience the beautiful Cuban countryside and other dining options. These hotels, however, do offer a number of typical beach resort facilities, including scuba diving and snorkeling, fishing, and car rental outlets. They also offer shuttle service into Trinidad.
Music and Nightlife
Trinidad has a lively nightlife and music scene. Cuba has a number of beautiful caves to explore, and there are karst formations in the hills around Trinidad filled with caves. One of the city’s unique nightspots is the Ayla Disco located within a cave and part of the Horizontes Las Cuevas Hotel. From the hillside cave cum disco, revelers have great views of the city and the Caribbean. The cave also offers excellent acoustics for the music. Trinidad is a center for the island’s signature salsa music, and you can hear this at the city’s famed Casa de la Musica, an open-air music venue just off Plaza Mayor. Almost every night there is a late evening salsa and dance show. Other traditional music featured are jazz, sumba, and son.
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