Santa Clara Cuba

Santa Clara, Cuba, is the capital city of the Cuban province of Villa Clara. It is central in the region and Cuba. Santa Clara is the fifth-most populous Cuban city, with a population of nearly 250,000.

One hundred seventy-five people founded Santa Clara on July 15, 1689. One hundred thirty-eight represented two large families already living in the area, who owned land next to the new city. The other 37 came from seven different families and included a priest and governor, all originating from the coastal city of San Juan de Los Remedios.

The population of Remedios had to choose between leaving their city, constantly being besieged by pirates, or staying. While most decided to stay, 37 people travelled south to the interior. On June 1, 1689, they arrived at a hill, joining two other families already present at the site. According to historical sources, a mass was celebrated under a tamarind tree, and Santa Clara was founded on this day. Since then, the place under the tree has been known as Loma del Carmen (transl. Carmen’s hill). A second-generation church was built in a park along the plaza. A fourth-generation tamarind tree surrounds a monument commemorating the event.

The settlement was originally called Cayo Nuevo, which was changed to Dos Cayos, Villa Nueva de Santa Clara, Pueblo Nuevo de Antón Díaz, Villa Clara, and finally Santa Clara.

Parque Vidal is one of the most quintessential Cuban places in Cuba. During the afternoons, people, especially singles, visit the park to meet others. Although not widely practised in recent times, the custom was to walk around the park. The women walk along the inner part of the park, while the men walk along the outer side. Another lost custom is for locals to set up a platform and perform improvisations with their guitars late Sunday afternoons. They dressed for that day with their guayaberas and highly polished shoes.

Santa Clara Cuba is home to a mausoleum that houses the remains of Che Guevara and sixteen of his fellow combatants killed in 1967 during the Bolivia campaign. There is also a reconstruction of Guevara derailing the train during the Battle of Santa Clara.

Before January 1, 1977, Santa Clara was part of Las Villas Province. As part of a general administrative reordering of Cuba’s provinces, Las Villas Province was split into the provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Sancti Spíritus. Santa Clara is in the province now known as Villa Clara.

Other local landmarks in Santa Clara Cuba include:

Parque del Carmen (Carmen’s Park) – foundation site of the city
Parque de los Martires (Martyrs’ Park)
Parque del Tren Blindado (The Armored Train Park-Museum ) – a National Monument of Cuba
Mausoleo Che Guevara (Monument and Mausoleum of Ernesto “Che” Guevara)
Catedral de Santa Clara de Asís (Saint Claire of Asis Cathedral)
Villa Clara Provincial Museum – showcases a collection of art and social and natural history.

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