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Baracoa

Country
Cuba
State
Guantanamo
City
Baracoa
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Baracoa is a municipality and city in Guantanamo Province near the eastern tip of Cuba.It was founded by the first governor of Cuba, the Spanish conquistador Diego Velazquez de Cuellar in 1511.It is the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba and was its first capital (the basis for its nickname Ciudad Primera, "First City").Baracoa is located on the spot where Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba on his first voyage.It is thought that the name stems from the indigenous Arauaca language word meaning "the presence of the sea."Baracoa lies on the Bay of Honey (Bahia de Miel) and is surrounded by a wide mountain range (including the Sierra del Purial), which causes it to be quite isolated, apart from a single mountain road built in the 1960s.

The original inhabitants of the island were Taino.They were eradicated by the Spanish all over Cuba except here and this is the only place where descendants still live.A local hero is Hatuey, who fled from the Spanish in Hispaniola and raised a Taino army to fight the Spanish in Cuba.According to the story Hatuey was betrayed by a member of his group and sentenced to burn at the stake. It is said that just before he died a Catholic priest tried to convert him so he would attain salvation; Hatuey asked the priest if Heaven was the place where the dead Spanish go.When he received an answer in the affirmative he told the priest that he'd rather go to Hell.

Before the Cuban Revolution the only access was by sea, but in the 1960s a 120 km long road from Guantanamo named La Farola was built through the mountains, which was one of the showcases of the revolution.The road had already been planned by the Batista government, but never got built.The highest point of the road is at over 600 m and it passes 11 bridges.The main products in the region are banana, coconut and cacao.It is Cuba's main chocolate manufacturing area.The remote location at the eastern end of the Cuban island has kept the influence of mass tourism quite low, despite the idyllic location. Baracoa can be reached by bus from Santiago de Cuba (4 hours) or by plane from Havana (2 hours).

To the east the Fuerte Matachín (built in 1802) houses and museums are still there standing.To the west the fuerte La Punta (built in 1803) houses a restaurant, with a smaller beach next to it.And the third fort, El Castillo, on a steep hill with a commanding view of the town and both bays, is now Hotel El Castillo. The other hotels in Baracoa are Hotel Porto Santo, Hotel La Rusa, Hostal La Habanera and Villa Maguana.There are also a few casas particulares.The Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion houses the earings of the Cruz de la Parra, a cross that Cali is supposed to have brought from Spain.Although it has been carbon dated to approximately that period, it is made from a local woodtype,which means at least part of the story is not correct.There are two music venues near the central Parque Independencia, the touristy Flan de Queso and the more traditional Casa de la Flana.



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How to Reach

By Air

Gustavo Rizo Airport (IATA: BCA, ICAO: MUBA) is a regional airport that serves this town.This is a small airport that usually operates with national flights.Located west of the bay near the Hotel Porto Santo and about 4 km NNW of Baracoa.Although flights are infrequent, Cubana de Aviacion flies here occasionally from Santiago de Cuba and Havana, and the fare is very reasonable.

By Bus

Baracoa is 150 km east of Guantanamo City.A daily Viazul bus runs to Santiago de Cuba.

By Car

Push bikes are available for rent expect to pay approx $5 USD/day Alternatively,you can hire a car (with driver) for approx $20 USD.

Key places to visit
El Yunque Mountain, Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, Maguana Beach, Yateras Stone Zoo


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Places to Visit

El Yunque Mountain

Is a 575 m (1,886 ft) high mountain located 7 km west of Baracoa and the Baracoa Bay in Cuba's Guantanamo Province.It has a table mountain shape that resembles an anvil ("yunque" in Spanish).El Yunque was mentioned by Christopher Columbus in his chronicles about the discovery of the Americas.The Yunque is situated between the banks of the rivers Duaba and Toa, it is 1,125 m (3,691 ft) long and has a total area of 461,000 m2 (4,960,000 sq ft).El Yunque was declared a National Monument by the Cuban National Commission of Monuments on 25 December 1979.

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

Is a national park in the Cuban provinces of Holguin and Guantanamo.It is named after the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt who visited the island in 1800 and 1801.The park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for of its size, altitude range, complex lithology, landform diversity, and wealth of endemic flora and fauna.The Alexander von Humboldt National Park has historically been an area of land little used by man, with only one archaeological site from the pre-Columbian period being known; this is located in the coastal zone of Aguas Verdes. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries some peripheral places were used as refuges or camps by maroons.

Maguana Beach

Is located in the tourist region of Baracoa, a distance of 154 km of provincial head Guantanamo and 20 km from the city of Baracoa, bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, the south by road Baracoa - Moa, in the west that Maguana Bay and the river of the same name and east part of a marine terrace dotted with coconut palms.Protected by a coral reef, this white-sand beach is a few miles from Baracoa.

Yateras Stone Zoo

Is located at the alto de Boqueron in Felicidad de Yateras, Yateras municipality about 15 km outside Guantanamo City.This unusual zoo offers you the great opportunity of seeing with your own eyes the wonder created by the modest farmer and sculptor Angel Inigo Blanco.Among the works that conform it are found, a lion and elephant about 3 m tall, first sculptures that originated the Stone Zoo “Zoologico de Piedra”, the combat of the aborigines against a wild boar, lions devouring a buffalo, several aborigines at their community, farmers that do their daily works among many others.

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