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.
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.
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.