Originally founded on Cuba’s northern coast as Santa Maria de Puerto de Principe, circa 1515, residents relocated to the inland site of Camagüey after being ravaged by multiple pirate invasions. The transformation is clearly evidenced by the architecture, city layout, street design and multiple nicknames attributed to the town’s history. Camagüey province, in Cuba’s central region, is the largest but least populous in the country.
The people are warm, very much aware of the city’s historical significance and eager to share local knowledge, as Dave recently rediscovered. Very appropriate nicknames include “The Legendary City,” or “The City of Earthen Jars” or “La Ciudad Confusa” (The Maze), each of which suggests the fascinating evolution of this tourist haven. With more than 325,000 residents, Camagüey is considered Cuba’s most intriguing inland city.
Bring your walking boots, because traveling on foot in Camagüey can present an abundance of easily located historical sites. Is your tour the right tour for you? Legal and customized tours available here! Contact Dave at Info@travelguidecuba.com for details.
Squarely in the center of Camagüey’s “legendary” status is national hero Ignacio Agramonte, “the daredevil of the War of Independence.” A bit of Agramonte exists in every Cuban male and female who is rightfully proud of their heritage. Born in the province in 1841, Ignacio was a recognized leader and hero of Cuba’s first War of Independence. In Camagüey, it is impossible not to be aware of his historical significance.
Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte – This museum contains memorabilia from the hero’s estate. Killed in action in 1873, the museum coveys a mid-19th century inland feel that might be best remembered for the lavish furnishings, including Agramonte’s treasured piano, as well as many revealing personal belongings.
Parque Agramonte – The historic statue of the hero of the first War of Independence stands in the center of this small, intimate square where locals gather to discuss topics of interest to insiders and outsiders! The original parque was created in 1518, long before Agramonte.
La Iglesia de la Soledad – In this centrally located architecturally mesmerizing church, Ignacio Agramonte was both baptized and married. The iconic watchtower effect is visible from just about everywhere in the town. The current church (1758) was erected on the site of the town’s original church (1697) and is defined by the colorful domed roof. Inside, the Baroque styled paintings belie the plain exterior but add to the merits of visiting. It is believed that the church was originally built at this site because a box dropped from a crate on a farmer’s cart during a rainstorm. When the crate popper open, a statue of Cuba’s virgin mysteriously appeared. That was plenty of motivation for a church.
Casa Natal Nicolas Guillen – For a brief time, the residence housed the most prominent literary intellectual in Camagüey. The noted afro-Cuban resided here for two years after achieving his law degree in Havana while employed as a journalist by a local newspaper. Today, the casa serves as a literary and research center with interesting photographs and other personal items.
Is your tour what you want to see and do or what a large tour provider has packaged for you? Contact Dave or Yordi at Info@travelguidecuba.com for details about customized tours.
Antiguo Cuartel de Caballeria del Ejercito Espanol – The Teatro Principal on Padre Valenica is a spellbinding building with rich stained glass windows and amazing chandeliers. The teatro is worth of serving as home to Camagüey’s internationally renowned ballet, which, if given the opportunity, is a “must see.”
Plaza de los Trabajaderos – Also known as the “Square of Workers,” this plaza served as the ideal venue for bullfights and the circus during the 19th century. La Iglesia Nuestra Senore de la Merced presides over this plaza.
La Iglesia Nuestra Senore de la Merced – Rumors abound about this fascinating church that served as a convent at one time. One rumor insists that in the 17th century, at a time when the plaza was submerged in water, town residents heard strange rumblings under the surface. Several days later, La Iglesia Nuestra Senore de la Merced rose from the flood amidst a beaming white aura. Beneath the church rests an elaborate underground cemetery, again reflecting native concerns about pirate attacks.
Did you know that by The Maze design Camaguey has the narrowest streets in Cuba? This includes the Funda del Catre Alley, 7’ 2” wide and 242’ 6” long, absolutely the narrowest street in the country. The reputation as the Maze reflects the city’s obsession with discouraging pirate invasions.
Plaza San Juan de Dios – Probably the most architecturally compelling plaza in Camaguey and one of the most interesting in all of Cuba, this is where Ignacio Agramonte’s body was brought in 1873 after being burned by Spain. Beautiful colonial arches, great cobblestone walks and homes with window grilles and red-tiled roofs adorn the plaza. This plaza has been declared a Cuban National Monument.
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