Ciego de Ávila: City of Porches

Catedral San Eugenio Ciego de Avila

Catedral San Eugenio Ciego de Avila

Situated in Central Cuba lies yet one more city where community pride runs fierce and deep. The magnetic city, Ciego de Ávila, is easily accessed via the Carretera Central Highway or by railroad. The port, Jucaro, lies 24 kilometers south-southwest of the city on the coast of the Gulf of Ana Maria. The city’s inhabitants call their hometown the “City of Porches” in reference to the striking colonnaded homes that line the center of town.

Ciego de Ávila lies 290 miles east of Havana and 68 miles west of Camaguey. Until 1976, the city was in Camaguey Province but through redistribution, Ciego de Ávila now serves as capital of a province by the same name. Many tourists are unaware of this particular treasure where the weather is always great and where some of the country’s finest museums are located.

Trocha Trail Fort

Trocha Trail Fort

The city was originally founded by 263 settlers in 1840. A municipal government was created in 1877 when Ciego de Ávila separated from the city of Moron. The city rose to prominence when the Spanish army constructed a fortified line known as Trocha a Moron.

The purpose of this military fortification was to slow insurrection forces trying to invade the west during the 1st War of Independence (1868-1878). The trocha failed to slow the Cuban-led force of General Maximo Gomez and a few hundred men who penetrated the line and stormed westward. After the war, the Trocha became an important center where the region’s sugarcane and significant pineapple crops were processed.

Ciego de Ávila has uncommon local pride. Much of the community spirit was inspired by a wealthy widowed socialite, Angela Hernandez, Viuda de Jimenez, who invested heavily in the city’s cultural heritage. An outstanding fund raiser in the early 20th century, Hernandez left her cultural stamp on the city she loved.

Causeway to Cayo Coco, Cuba

Causeway to Cayo Coco, Cuba

Today, tourists can enjoy the Parque Marti, the city’s largest park and the 500-seat Teatro Principal, just a few blocks away. Here, wonderful local and national shows are held and guests from around the province congregate to enjoy the festivities. The province’s foremost secondary education institution, the University of Ciego de Avila or Universidad de Ciego de Avila (UNICA) lends a youthful, vibrant atmosphere to the city.

Despite its substantial history, Ciego de Ávila is one of the most modern provincial capitals in Cuba. A number of the city’s museums are a source of great cultural pride. Hernandez’s persistent pursuit of cultural development is still appreciated in the 21st century.

Ciego De Avila

Ciego De Avila

Both the Astro and Viazul bus lines run through Ciego de Ávila. The city is also serviced by an international airport whose traffic diminished after the opening of nearby Cayo Coco airport. The city’s radio station, Radio Surco, once known as Radio Cuba, was launched in 1952.

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