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Baracoa: Five Centuries of History in Cuba
Date: AUG 15, 2011
Other Reports

Baracoa, the first village founded by the Spanish conquistadors in Cuba, is one of the most historic places in the country, due to its close link to the development of national society since its foundation to date.

The village's 500th anniversary certifies the importance of the city, which was originally called Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa by Conqueror Diego Velázquez, and was Cuba's first capital and the first archbishopric.

In addition to its rich history, Baracoa is characterized by hospitable people and breathtaking natural beauty, as it is surrounded by mountains, rivers and exuberant vegetation.

The very name of the village, Baracoa, comes from an aboriginal word that means "presence of sea", an allusion to the marine environment surrounding the city, in contrast to the mountains and rivers.

The natural landscape is complemented by a 575-meter-tall flat-top mountain known as Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa's Anvil), due to its resemblance of the tool used by ironsmiths.

Several rivers run through the region, including the Toa, which is Cuba's biggest river and has several waterfalls, including El Saltadero, which is 17 meters tall.

Access to the city is an adventure, as it consists of a very peculiar road winding around the mountain and called La Farola. The road has 11 hanging bridges and the highest point is Altos de Cotilla, which is more than 600 meters above sea level.

Visitors to Baracoa are surrounded by an atmosphere that is reminiscent of the Spanish colonial period, including the famous Cruz de la Parra, made with local timber by the Spaniards during their first voyage to the Americas and blessed by Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas.

Spanish colonization left its imprint on the village's houses, many of which were built of rock, like the colonial fortresses El Castillo and La Punta, and the towers of Joa and the Cemetery.

Travelers to Baracoa also enjoy the local cuisine, which is very peculiar and based on plants, including dishes such as Bacán (a sort of plantain tamale), ajiaco (a typical stew) and fish cooked in coconut milk.

Those who love desserts can enjoy the cucuruchos, which are cones made of royal palm leaves and containing coconut and pineapple, and the famous chocolate, made from cocoa harvested in the region.

Visitors can stay at the Hotel La Rusa, a small 12-room establishment that offers a quiet and cozy atmosphere. The hotel is located by the sea and offers a breathtaking view of the blue ocean.

Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil)
Baracoa Mountains.
City of Baracoa
City of Baracoa
La Rusa Hotel. Side view of the hotel
Façade of La Rusa Hotel.
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    Yunque de Baracoa (Baracoa`s Anvil)

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