Trinidad Cuba 500 Years


Trinidad Cuba is getting geared up for its 500th anniversary celebrations this year. In fact, the proud people of Trinidad have been painting facades, repairing fences and over 50 casa particular (homestay) have opened in Trinidad Cuba over the past 12 months. This is matched by a similar amount of excellent privately owned restaurants called “paladar”.

Yes, the clock has been ticking down for Trinidad’s 500th anniversary and big birthday for over 2 years now and the town has been totally transformed for this year’s celebrations.

Getting a Hotel in Trinidad is still possible however, checking briefly while writing this article I found Hotel Iberostar Grand Trinidad and Hotel Brisas Trinidad del Mar still had excellent availability for some imaginary dates I checked in July and August 2014. There is also now an abundance of the aforementioned Casa Particulares in Trinidad available.

Trinidad 500th anniversary

Thankfully, change has been slow in Trinidad, in fact, not much has altered for over 150 years since Diego Velázquez established Trinidad in 1514. A really historic city, Trinidad is one of the oldest European-founded settlements in the Americas, its architecture remaining intact despite numerous major blazes and hurricanes during the past 5 centures.

The amazing splendor you find today was constructed largely on fortunes accrued during the “sugar years” in the early 19th century, when the town’s affluent Spanish merchants invested their riches in lavish mansions avariciously packed with French-Italian furniture and British Royal Doulton dinnerware and china figurines.

Trinidad’s streets and buildings fell into dilapidation until the Cuban government announced it was to become a national monument in 1978. From the early 1980’s a long process of restoration began, bringing the city back from the brink and to its current (and colorful) glory. This work reaped official international recognition for the Cuban government when, in 1988, Unesco declared Trinidad a world heritage site for its outstanding examples of 18th- and 19th-century colonial architecture. Wandering around Trinidad you’ll be in awe of the colonial architecture, large single-storey houses with terracotta tiled roofs and pretty hacienda courtyards.

Anniversary Trinidad Cuba

On foot through the meandering cobbled streets, the first things you now notice are the new privately owned restaurants and bars. Up until 2011, there were only three paladares (private restaurants) in Trinidad. With over 50 new private dining rooms and several others requesting licenses, the handsome historic buildings are now perfectly excellent gastronomic centers as well.

Trinidad Cuba’s abundant casa particulares, some years ago restricted to letting out just two rooms, can now offer multiple beds. Unshackled from their economic confines, many proprietors have started turning their elegant colonial homes into excellent and posh guesthouses.

To mark the 500th anniversary, an exhibition of photos covering Trinidadian life is currently displayed in the town’s Benito Ortiz Art Gallery. Other Museums in Trinidad have also been reworked, updated and repaired for the celebrations. These include the emblematic Museo Romántico, the San Francisco de Asís convent and the popular archaeological museum. Two new museums have just opened. The first is a perfectly carved scale model of Trinidad’s historic town center on display in the historic Casa Frías, a 19th-century former family home just off the main square. The second is in the late 18th-century frescoed Casa Malibran which offers and ornate exhibition and several historic artifacts.

While visiting the city of Trinidad is best accomplished on foot, visiting the surrounding areas like Playa Ancon Trinidad beach, Valley of the Sugar Mills or Cienfuegos is better accomplished with Cuban Rent A Car. In fact, the short distance from Havana and Varadero means that you could easily add Trinidad to a whirlwind tour of Cuba during its 500 year celebrations.

Ancon Beach Trinidad Cuba

Ancon Beach Trinidad Cuba

Located just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the center of Trinidad you’ll find the Ancon Beach. For those of you staying at Ancon Beach, instead of some of Trinidad’s city center hotels you’ll already have the all-inclusive meals but, for those of you venturing down to the beach from a Trinidad City Hotel, there are 2 beach ‘burger’ joints which offer cold beer and other refreshments and the burgers are quite good. Unlike many beaches in Cuba the sands or an off yellow color due to the surrounding mountain erosion and different rock types in the area, however, clear blue water is the same and the snorkeling just off the coast is simply sublime. You can walk for miles along the sands and always find some guy selling fresh coconut milk freshly felled from a tree near you. There is also a coconut bar which offers welcome refreshment and a stop with toilets and washbasins.

The Ancon beach is less crowded than say Varadero or Cayo Coco Beaches and offers more in the way of a purely natural Cuban experience rather than the hyped 100% touristy feel of the aforementioned. Many locals use the beach too, so there’s always plenty of interaction and possibility to chat available.

Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos Trinidad Cuba

Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos Trinidad

Address: Calle del Cristo and Boca, Trinidad

Since 1986 the National Museum of the struggle against what the Castro’s call “Bandits” has housed photos, maps, weapons and other paraphernalia relating to the fight against the various counterrevolutionary groups that operated illicitly out of the Sierra del Escambray Mountains between 1960 and 1965. The museum provides the visitor with a much synthesized account of relevant facts in the struggle against counterrevolutionary elements that attempted to destabilize Cuba form their base in mountainous zone of El Escambray mountains. It is housed in the building of the former convent and church of Saint Francis of Assisi. The fuselage of a US U-2 spy plane shot down over Cuba is also featured. From its bell tower, visitors can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the city of Trinidad.

To view all Museums in Trinidad and the rest of Cuba click here.

Museum of Architecture Trinidad Cuba

Museum of Architecture Trinidad Cuba

Address: Calle Desengaño # 83, Trinidad

Museum of Colonial Architecture in Trinidad displays architectural and interior decorating details from the periods of the 18th and 19th centuries, and has a pretty patio garden for visitors to relax and soak in the quiet surroundings. Both in the interior of the museum and in the beautiful courtyard of the ancient building, visitors can admire displays of the architectonic development of Trinidad over almost two centuries, including a beautiful variety of decorative and wooden window bars among other highly valuable objects from the historical and patrimonial archives. The Museum of Architecture lets you explore Trinidad’s progress from its first settlement through the Cuban revolutionary times and on into present day.
To view all Museums in Trinidad and the rest of Cuba click here.

Church of the Holy Trinity Iglesia | Santisima Trinidad Cuba

Santisima Trinidad Cuba

The Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima stands above the Plaza Mayor to the north-east. The Holy Trinity Church of Trinidad was constructed began in the late 19th century and it was completed in 1892. It was constructed on the site of a preceding 17th century church that was devastated during the 19th century by a cyclone which also destroyed many other buildings in Trinidad’s center.

The Holy Trinity Church of Trinidad contains an 18th-century wooden statue of Christ called the “The Lord of the True Cross” “El Señor de la Vera Cruz” which is an object of special admiration in Trinidad. History has it that the originally statue was destined for a church in Veracruz in Mexico but the ship carrying the statue was hit by bad weather and had to turn back to Trinidad three times and was only able to make the voyage after leaving part of its cargo which included the now infamous statue of Christ on display at the church in Trinidad. This was considered as divine intervention by the people of Trinidad and the statue has been displayed in the church ever since.

Valle de Los Ingenios & Valle de San Luis Trinidad Cuba

Valle de Los Ingenios Trinidad

The three valleys in Trinidad named San Luis, Santa Rosa and Meyer, collectively called the Valle de Los Ingenios, were a center for sugar production from the late 18th century until the late 19th century. Valle de los Ingenios, was also named Valley de los Ingenios or Valley of the Sugar Mills is a series of 3 valleys about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) outside of Trinidad, Cuba. During the years of the sugar industry in Cuba there were up to 55 cane sugar mills in operation in these three valleys with over 35,000 slaves working in the mills and the sugar cane plantations that encircled them. The whole area covers 270 km2 (100 sq mi) and shows the sites of over 70 former sugar mills from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Museum of Archeology Trinidad

Museum of Archeology “Guamuhaya” Trinidad

Address: Calle Simón Bolívar # 457, Trinidad

Located in the former Casa de Padrón, the Museum of Archeology Guamuhaya was founded on May 15th 1976. It is conveniently situated at the very center of the historical core of the city. The building was erected at the end of the 18 th century and it displays a marked rococo style. Its main collections are based in objects that date back to the period going from the pre-Columbian epoch to the Spanish conquest. Some of these objects are considered unique in Cuba.

The exhibition includes an exposed human skeletal for research purposes, texts and illustrations that complement the information and enrich the understanding of the human body.

The Museum of Archeology “Guamuhaya” offers specialized information Colonial and Pre-Hispanic archeological advice, lectures, conferences, specialist visits, tours of the Valley of the refineries and the City of Trinidad. Exhibits are displayed in chronological order through 8 rooms within the building. Further artifacts are objects belonging to the aborigines living in the South Central Region of the island of Cuba during the pre-Columbus era, as well as material evidence of the Colonial period of the city of Trinidad and Valle de los Ingenios.

To view all Museums in Trinidad and the rest of Cuba click here.

Museum of Romance Trinidad

Musuem of Romance Trinidad Cuba

Address: Calle Fernando Hernández Echemendía # 52, Trinidad

The Romantic museum in Trinidad is located in a house built between 1740 and 1808, which was the home of Spanish count Nicolás de la Cruz Brunet. Today it is home to the Museo Romántico. The excellent collection of early 19the century furniture and decorative arts recreates an aristocratic Cuban interior featuring powerful European undertones. The exterior of the building itself faithfully represents the style of Cuban colonial architecture. Visitors are plunged into a luxurious décor of marble and crystal, where Sèvres porcelain, china statuettes and French opaline objects sit above massive mahogany furniture in the sitting rooms.

To view all Museums in Trinidad and the rest of Cuba click here.

Municipal Museum of Trinidad Cuba

Municipal Musuem of Trinidad

Address: Calle Simón Bolívar # 423, Trinidad

This grandiose structure just off Plaza Mayor offers a vast exhibit that allows the visitor to know the history of one of the first seven towns founded in Cuba by Diego Velázquez in the 16th century located in the mansion that belonged to the Borrell family from 1827 to 1830. Later the building passed to a German planter named Kanter, or Cantero. Today, the building where el Museo Municipal de Trinidad is situated is still called Casa Cantero.

Among its outstanding collections there are excellent art pieces displaying a notorious conservation. Museo Municipal de Trinidad is one of the many museums of the city that should not be skipped in your agenda.

It is thought that Dr Justo Cantero acquired immense sugar estates by poisoning an old slave trader and wedding his widow, who also suffered an unusual death. Cantero’s apparently ill-gotten wealth is displayed in the bourgeois neoclassical decoration of the houses rooms. The view from the top of the building is a photographers dream location.
To view all Museums in Trinidad and the rest of Cuba click here.

Plaza Mayor Trinidad Cuba

Plaza Mayor Trinidad Cuba

Most of the buildings surrounding the plaza or square in the center of Trinidad belonged to the wealthy landowners and sugar traders of the day. All the colonial era properties surrounding the plaza date from the 18th and 19th centuries from a time when trade in sugar industry from the nearby Valle de los Ingenios and the slave trade brought great immense wealth to the whole area.

The trade in sugar decreased in Trinidad and when the slave trade ended in the mid-19th century, Trinidad lost much of its wealth at which time little building work continued until the end of the 1950s. For this reason, many of the historic buildings and streets were preserved, especially the grand colonial edifices surrounding the Plaza Mayor. Today, many of the former houses surrounding the square are museums dedicated to the period during which the city was a Mecca for the sugar trade.

The beautiful Plaza Mayor has numerous communal gardens on raised platforms, with pedestrian walkways traversing each garden. As a result the four small garden beds are fenced off by the original white wrought-iron fences of the day which have stood the test of time. Adding to the charm, cobbled streets circle the square, dividing it from surrounding properties. An additional treat for visitors are the original wrought-iron lamp-posts, English greyhound statues, and columns with large terra-cotta roofing to decorate the borders of the plaza.