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Central Cuba Travel Guide


Cuba's third-largest city (population 315,000) and the capital of the country's biggest province, Camagüey is a sprawling but tranquil town of narrow, cobbled streets—lined with an eclectic mix of architecture—converging on plazas dominated by colonial churches. The camagüeyanos, as its citizens are known, are proud of their city and its nearly five centuries of history. They're

accommodating to the few foreigners who pass this way, which makes it that much more pleasant to visit.

Camagüey was one of the seven villas founded by Diego Velázquez at the beginning of the 16th century. Originally called Puerto del Principe (Prince's Port), it started out on the northern coast and was moved twice, reaching its current location in 1528. It wasn't until the early 1900s that it took the name Camagüey, after a tree common to the region. As the vast plain surrounding it was converted to ranchland, the city became a prosperous commercial center. During the 17th and 18th centuries, buccaneers and pirates, led by the likes of Henry Morgan, marched inland and sacked the city several times. As protection against such invasions, Camagüey was transformed into a maze of narrow streets that facilitated ambushing attackers in the old days but today only make it easier for visitors to get lost.

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