Camaguey enjoys a wonderful natural barrier to the southeast where three low-hill ranges: the Sierra del Chorrillo, the Sierra del Najasa and the Guaicanámar preside over the plain.
Nestled in their grassy uplands is La Hacienda la Belén, a handsome country ranch that was built by a Peruvian architect during WWII. This popular People-to-People Cuba landmark is presently a nature reserve that such exotic animals as zebras, deer, bulls and horses. The Ecotour Reserve is also a wonderful spot for bird watchers where the Cuban parakeet, giant kingbird and Antillean palm swift cohabitate. You might be astounded by the nearby three-million-year-old petrified forest of fossilized tree stumps that cover about one hectare.
Camagüey the capital city of the Province bearing the same name. Camaguey is Cuba’s third largest city with more than 321,000 inhabitants. The original city, Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe was settled by Spain in 1515 on Cuba’s northern coast but almost immediately fell prey to numerous pirate attacks. The city was finally moved inland and south to its present location in 1528. Camaguey consists of a maze of alleys and narrow streets that feed into small plazas. This uncharacteristically defensive design was intended to discourage intruders after the city was burned by Henry Morgan in the early 17th century. The new city had 15 different churches.
The tinajón is a clay pot and is Camaguey’s symbol. Clay pots played a large part in the new city. The tradition has been continued from hundreds of years. Some of the pots enable two people to stand in them. Local folklore suggests that if a male drinks the water from a young girl’s personal tinajón, he will be her partner eternally.
The city has two advanced universities, the University of Camagüey and the Instituto Pedagógico de Camagüey.
Alfareros is the name of the local baseball club. The home games are played at the Cándido González Stadium. MLB Hall-of-Famer Atanasio Perez Rigal aka Tony Pérez of the Cincinnati Reds was born in Camaguey.
Camaguey is a popular People-to-People Cuba destination because there are many fascinating landmarks and points of interest in the city and Province. The current Museo de San Juan de Dios was once a hospital administered by Father José Olallo, the friar who became Cuba’s first saint. It has a front cloister dating from 1728 and a unique triangular rear patio with Moorish touches, built in 1840. The building has been renovated on several occasions and has served as a Teacher’s College in recent years.
Camagüey is home to two of Cuba’s most creative and prodigious contemporary painters, Joel Jover and his wife Ileana Sánchez. Their magnificent home in Father José Olallo functions both as a gallery and a piece of art in its own right, with a slew of original art and delightfully kitschy antiques on show.
You will enjoy staying at Playa Santa Lucía, located at the mouth of the Bahía de Nuevitas, where sandy beaches meet the Caribbean Sea. The highly regarded El Bucanero restaurant is located here. Interested in learning more about the finest dining and accommodations for your customized People-to-People Cuba tour, contact Yordi and Dave at Info@travelguidecuba.com.
From hotels at Playa Santa Lucia, many guests jog or hike to Playa los Cocos, a spectacular swimming destination. Here, you can relish views of the Faro Colón (lighthouse) on Cayo Sabinal. At Playa los Cocos, a small Cuban settlement known as La Boca offers one more surprising restaurant. The special of the day is the fresh fish caught by local fishermen and delivered to the door. If you can catch a local pig roast, it is a celebration to enjoy. Need information about the most interesting dining places in Cuba? Contact Yordi or Dave at Info@travelguidecuba.com.
One of Cuba’s most famous cemeteries is also found in Camaguey. Tourists describe it as a sea of bleached-white Gothic tombs where Camagüey-born independence hero Ignacio Agramonte rests.
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