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History and Nature in the First Cuban Village
Date: SEP 17, 2007
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Cuba, which has a strategic location in the Caribbean region, offers unique sun, beach and nature options for tourists, in addition to a centuries-old historic and cultural wealth.

The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in 1492 and the expansion of slavery throughout the island left a deep imprint in the country, including towns with a rich heritage that has remained despite the passage of time.

One of those regions is in Cuba's easternmost province, Guantánamo. The village was founded as Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa in 1511-12 by Governor Diego Velázquez, and was the first capital and first bishopric in Cuba.

In addition to its huge historic heritage, Baracoa is characterized by its friendly dwellers and breathtaking beauty, as it is surrounded by mountains, rivers and exuberant vegetation.

The name of the region, Baracoa, comes from an aboriginal word that means "presence of sea", due to its marine environment, which contrasts with the mountains and rivers.

The natural landscape is complemented by a 575-meter-high flattop mountain known as Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa's Anvil), due to its similarity with that tool used by blacksmiths.

The road to the Yunque is outside the limits of the Alexander von Humboldt National Park, which was declared a World Natural Heritage site and where there are other trails, including the one called Bahía de Taco (Taco Bay).

That marine accident is a safe haven for manatees, the only herbivorous mammals in Cuba, and rare colonies of oysters.

Besides, several waterways run through the region, including the Toa, which is the fastest-flowing river in Cuba and has several waterfalls, the most famous of which is the 17-meter-high El Saltadero.

Visitors are surrounded by a Spanish-colonial atmosphere, including the famous Cruz de la Parra (Cross of Vine), which was made of local timber by the Spanish colonizers during their first voyage to the Americas, and was the place where Fray Bartolomé de las Casas officiated mass.

Spanish colonization influenced local architecture, where stone buildings were constructed like El Castillo and La Punta fortresses, and the Joa and Cementerio (Cemetery) towers.

Visitors can stay at La Rusa Hotel, a 12-room cozy establishment by the sea, from where guests can enjoy the beautiful seascape.

The hotel was named after its former owner, a Russian woman who settled in Baracoa after visiting many countries and who inspired Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier when he wrote "La Consagración de la Primavera" (The Consecration of Spring).

From the hotel, guests can go on excursions to the Duaba farm, which is planted with fruit trees and exotic plants and where they can enjoy Cuban dishes and countryside traditions, and taste the magic cocoa fruit.

Access to the city is an adventure as vehicles must take the peculiar La Farola viaduct, which winds through the mountains. It has 11 hanging bridges and its highest point is Altos de Cotilla, which is more than 600 meters above sea level.

Baracoa Mountains.
City of Baracoa
Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil)
Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil)
Façade of La Rusa Hotel.
River and mountains in Baracoa.
Related provinces
  • Guantánamo

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  • El Castillo
  • La Rusa
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  • Gallery
    Baracoa Mountains.

    Choose a small photo to enlarge:
    Baracoa Mountains. City of Baracoa Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil) Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil) Façade of La Rusa Hotel. River and mountains in Baracoa. City of Baracoa La Rusa Hotel. Side view of the hotel
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