Cuba destinations - Cienfuegos, Cuba
Once a predominantly agricultural province, Cienfuegos has undergone subtantial development since the Revolution and is now one of the most industrialised of all the provinces.
Its location on the southern coast of central Cuba has made it vulnerable to attack from pirates and corsairs through the ages.
As the Cuban authorities look towards promoting tourism on their island, so Cienfuegos has begun to gear up to accommodate a more welcome type of visitor.
Although much of the province is relatively flat, the foothills of the Escambray mountains in the east are a pleasant and scenic attraction and there are several unspoiled beaches stretching along the coast towards the province of Sancti Spiritus.
Sugar is the area's main crop, with much of it being exported from the port of Cienfuegos, the capital of the province.
This city is a delightful and interesting town with a history largely different to that of the rest of the country.
It is a pleasant city which, because of its role as an important port, both domestically and internationally, has a slightly more cosmopolitan feel about it than most other areas in the south. The streets are straight and wide with the Paseo del Prado, which dissects the city and extends out to the peninsula's end, being the most important street. The street extends south through the Punta Gorda area and north along th bay, there are some excellent views to be had from here, especially at sunset when the bay takes on a quiet and brooding appearance.
If you visit this city don't forget to see: Parque Jose Marti, on the eastern side of it is the impressive Catedral de la Purisima Concepcion, which was built in 1870. Also overlooking the park is the Provincial Government Palace, a grand building with great columns and marble floors. Due west of the park stands the Casa de la Cultura.
Teatro Tomas Terry, situated on the north side of the Parque Jose Marti, is a beautiful and impressive structure whose facade is topped by three multi-coloured mosaic murals.
Museo Historico, which contains local military memorabilia that once belonged to those who took part in the various struggles for independence and freedom.
Palacio del Valle, on the Punta Gorda, this Moorish style country house was bought by Alejandro Suero Balbin. Its fading pink colours fail to diminish the overall grandeur of the building which contains some excellent furnishings and porcelains.
The botanical gardens is perhaps the most famed botanical garden in the country, housing over 2,000 tropical and sub-tropical plants. Among the impressive collection of plant species are more than 200 types of palm trees of araceae, there is also a collection of different types of palm trees indigenous to Cuba.
Playa Rancho Luna, situated 20km east of the city, is still very quiet and secluded.
The Castle of Our Lady of the Angels of Jagua, situated 22km from the city, was originally used by the Spanish as a small fort to keep out smugglers who used to enter Jagua Bay to obtain fresh water and food from the locals. It is now a much more subtantial structure following the Spaniards' decision to develop it to defend the city from the more forceful threat offered by the English navy during the war between Spain and England.