Central Cuba: Places to Explore


Santa Clara

The capital of Villa Clara Province is a pleasant city of 200,000, with a busy center where cobbled streets are lined with historic buildings and a periphery of factories and modern apartment buildings. Santa Clara was the site of a decisive battle during the last days of 1958, and the remains of the quintessential revolutionary, Che Guevara, rest in a monument at the edge of town. But you need merely visit the central plaza of this provincial capital to discover that its history stretches back centuries and that it has a good bit going on today.

Settled in 1689 by a group of landowners from nearby Remedios, Santa Clara's rich agricultural land and fortuitous location between Havana and eastern Cuba have made it a relatively affluent provincial center. It has Cuba's third-largest university, whose students are probably responsible for the city's reputation for being liberal (it's one of the few Cuban towns with a very visible gay presence). But Santa Clara also appears to be a historically secular city, judging from the absence of a church on its central plaza.

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