Ultimate cultural highlights of Cuba
Cuba has a fascinating past and vibrant culture – today, we introduce you to some of its very best cultural highlights.
The island of Cuba has a colourful heritage, and discovering this is one of the best reasons to come here. Though of course, Cuba is also known for its stunning beaches, hot weather and lush green interior - something that means this destination offers real variety.
Today, though, we will be focusing on Cuba's cultural highlights, of which there are many. From the rhythms of Afro-Caribbean music to the Cuban Revolution, this island nation promises the chance for cultural discovery not only in museum display cases, butalso on the streets of the cities and towns that form the cornerstones of Cuban culture.
Here is a selection of our favourite cultural highlights of Cuba.
Havana is an incredible city. The capital of Cuba has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the nation's most culturally rich, vibrant and exciting destinations - it's almost impossible not to get caught up in its electric atmosphere.
While Havana is well known as a hub of modern Latino culture, the historic part of the city is perhaps the most exciting prospect for travellers - especially those hoping to get under the skin of the place. There's no better way to get to know this area than by taking a walk around and soaking up the atmosphere - because Havana isn't all about sightseeing. In fact, while there are some beautiful buildings, this city isn't what you might call scenic in a traditional sense; its ambience is the real attraction.
During your time exploring historic Havana, take the opportunity to visit the Revolution Museum or Museo de la Revolucion, which is housed in the very grand former Presidential Palace - a building which could easily be considered an attraction in itself. Indeed, it was the headquarters of the government for four decades and used by the likes of Fulgencio Batista - the country's notorious dictator of the 1950s - and the site of an (unsuccessful) assassination attempt of said leader.
Turning our attention to the museum itself, it covers Cuba's history, starting with its pre-Columbian days and working its way to the present day. The oldest exhibits are displayed on the top floor, with the museum laid out in chronological order. Be sure to take a look outside as well - behind the museum is the Pavillon Granma, which is a memorial to the yacht that brought Castro and other revolutionaries to Cuba in the mid-1950s.
The town of Santa Clara is, like many of the country's finest cultural attractions, of interest because of its associations with the Cuban Revolution. It was famously liberated by Che Guevara in 1958, marking the end of Batista's regime.
And this air of revolutionary spirit can still very much be felt here today. Santa Clara is an edgy destination that has a reputation for pushing boundaries. Taking a city tour to see its many fantastic monuments and murals, and to soak up the atmosphere, is a great way to get a feel for revolutionary Cuba.
Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara
Unsurprisingly given its history, Santa Clara has a grand monument dedicated to its liberator, Che Guevara - and this is one of the most popular local attractions. Located just outside the centre of town, this monument and museum is easily spotted thanks to the large statue of Che, which was built to mark the 20th anniversary of his murder.
Below it lies a mausoleum, which is also dedicated to other revolutionaries who lost their lives, while you'll find a museum here too. This contains some rather moving photographs of the guerrilla fighter, including many more personal shots that provide a glimpse of the man outside of his political realm.
One of the oldest cities in Cuba, Trinidad is a natural destination for anyone keen to discover the nation's culture. In fact, this is a Unesco World Heritage Site, such is its cultural importance.
Its wealth came from the sugar and slave trade in the 19th century - a heritage which has shaped the city. Indeed, it left it with its colonial mansions and grand plazas, while it also ushered in African culture. The slaves who were forced to come here from the continent and brought their belief, religion and practices with them, and these then diffused into the local culture. This fusion of African and Cuban traditions created the country's Afro-Cuban heritage.
Taking a walking tour of the colonial centre is among the best ways to discover the city's fascinating culture and past - key places to visit include Plaza Mayor, which lies at the town's heart, the Palacio Brunet and the Museo Historico Municipal. And as you stroll, you can get a taste of Trinidad's modern culture by stopping by La Canchanchara to listen to some live Cuban music.
View Cox & Kings' holidays to Cuba here.
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