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Parque Céspedes Review
At times it seems that Santiago's main activity is the curious stare down that takes place in Parque Céspedes between mojito-sipping tourists at the Hotel Casa Granda's café and white-hatted locals, who sit across the way. Long the central meeting place for santiagueros, this large plaza is always abuzz with sound and movement. Musicians wander past and around its shady benches, which are occupied from early in the morning to late in the evening. At the park's center is a large bronze statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, whose Grito de Yara declared Cuba's independence from Spain in 1868 and began the Ten Years War.
The twin towers and central dome of the neoclassical Santa Ifigenia Basilica Metropolitana loom over the southern edge of Parque Céspedes. Since this area is atop a hill, the cathedral's profile is visible from afar and creates a recognizable silhouette. Although it was first built on this site in 1523, the current building dates primarily from 1922. Inside, the painted ceiling has been beautifully restored, and there are several noteworthy works of religious art, including a sculpture of Cuba's patron saint, La Virgen de la Caridad. A two-room museum near the east entrance displays objects relating to the history of the Catholic church in Cuba. Calle Heredia, Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba. No phone. Donation suggested for church; 1 cuc for museum. Church daily 8–10 amand 5–7:30 pm. Mass Mon. and Wed. 6:30 pm, Sat. 5 pm, Sun. 9 am, and 6:30 pm. Museum Mon.–Sat. 9:30–5:30.
On the north side of Parque Céspedes, the colonial-era Poder Popular (not open to the public) was where Castro gave his victory speech on January 2, 1959. Occasionally it hosts exhibits and special performances. Draped across the front of the building is a huge red-and-black banner reading ""M 26-7"", referring to Castro's July 26 storming of the Moncada barracks. Calle Aguilera, Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba.
- Location: Santiago de Cuba
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