Cienfuegos, also known as “La Perla del Sur” (the Pearl of the South) or “La Linda ciudad del mar” (the Beautiful Sea City), has different attraction which delight visitors when they just arrive; that is the historical center and the protected zone of Punta Gorda for example. It won the condition of World Cultural Heritage since July 15th, 2005 due to the values it has for example, it is the only one Historical center from the XIX century in Latin America.
The city itself represents the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order regarding the city´s layout what is added to a Protected Zone qualified by its environmental, architectonic and cultural values distributed from the end of the promenade to the zone known as La Punta.
The elegant and perfect neoclassical layout, in chessboard shape is an exceptional exponent of the Cuban and Caribbean city planning of the XIX century. We invite you to visit it.
What you need to see in Cienfuegos, Cuba?
José Martí square and surroundings. 25th Street to 29th between 54th and 56th avenues.
On April 22nd, 1819 Mr. Don Luis D´Clouet and a group of French descendants founded the colony Fernandina de Jagua, taking a majagua tree as the starting point for the city planning. Before having the name of Jose Marti Square, it had the name of Plaza Ramírez; Parade Ground; Plaza de Recreo, and Independence Square. In this square we find the urban and architectonic bases that characterize Cienfuegos where neoclassic and eclecticism show the status of the previous generation. With the largest dimensions in the country, almost 2 hectares – twice the standard dimensions established by the Laws of Indies, an exceptional example among the cities from the XIX century – in this square we can find Jose Marti statue, the two pair lions, the fountains, the arbor, the Arch of Triumph, as well as different busts made to the memory of important personalities such as Nicolas Acea, Mr. Ramon, Maria de Labra, Antonio Reguera, Alfredo Mendez, Clotilde del Carmen Rodriguez and Antonio Hurtado. It was one of the most important places during the facts of September 5th, 1957. In the surrounding area you can find the most important buildings regarding culture, politics, religion, and administration. This square, and its surroundings have the condition of National Monument since October 10th, 1978. It also won the condition of World Cultural Heritage in 2005 for being located in the Historical Center.
Arch of Triumph.
The Arch of Triumph, only of this type in Cuba, was built as a voluntary job by the city workers. The idea was born in the revolutionary club ruled by Rita Suarez del Villar, “la cubanita” (the Cuban little lady”, as part of the celebration for the new republic that was born on May 20th, 1902. Workers started this job on May 1rst, only two weeks later they have already finished. During the inauguration there were three flags on the top of the arch, the Cuban flag, the Cienfuegos flag, and a red one with three number eights in the center representing workers and their three main aspirations: 8 working hours, 8 resting hours, and 8 hours to improve the cultural knowledge.
San Lorenzo and Santo Tomas School. 56th avenue corner to 29th.
School of trade and handicrafts from the beginning of the XIX century as a project of the wealthy men in Cienfuegos. Relevant due to its dimensions and the use of elements of the neoclassic. This school has witnessed different important historical, social, and cultural facts such as September 5th, 1957. Today it is the seat of the high school “5 de Septiembre”
Tomas Terry Theater. 56th avenue between 27th and 29th streets.
One of the three vernacular theaters in Cuba. Example of the Cuban scene during the XIX century. Inaugurated in 1890, this theater is Italian like and has witnessed many performances of local, national and international artists. It has great artistic values in the paintings on the ceiling, interior walls, mural paintings and balconies; all of them were made by Camilo Salaya Toro, Spanish artist who lived in the city during that time. This theater won the Conservation Award in 2008. If you like to visit this jewel, it is opened every day from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm. Performances are according to the billboard.
Ferrer Palace (House of Culture in Cienfuegos). 25th Street corner to 54th avenue.
Built by the Spanish merchant and landowner Jose Ferrer Sirés, following the Project of Pablo Donato Carbonell, an architect from Cienfuegos. The edification was finished between 1917 and 1918, and ready to be used during that last year for the family Ferrer, who previously lived in Villa Teresa in Punta Gorda. It is said, Ferrer family lived very short time in this palace, during that period they received Enrico Caruso as guests during his performances in Tomas Terry Theater. In 1923, Santiago Claret Marti founded “El Sol” newspaper in the first floor of this palace, although it last there very short time. When Ferrer´s family moved to Havana, Isidoro Cacicedo, one of the wealthiest man in town, and his family came to live in the palace until 1970. The first floor was used to open “La Cosmopolita” drugstore at the beginning of the 1940s and it worked there few years after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution when it was nationalized and turned into a warehouse for medical supplies. This building got a cultural value when the House of Culture in Cienfuegos was set there. The House of Culture, Benjamin Duarte pays close attention to the movement of non-professional artists in the city. Nowadays, it is an excellent lookout point where you can take the greatest images of Jose Marti Square. Price 2.00 cuc. From Mondays to Fridays from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Maroya Art Gallery. 54th avenue between 25th and 27th streets.
The former house of the family Díaz de Tuesta, it is one of the few buildings that keep the colonial structure in walls, ceiling and windows. Nowadays it is the commercial and expositional seat of the Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets. It shows a varied offer of handicrafts, handmade clothes, paintings, traditional and modern furniture, cultural activities related to the expositions they show, fashion shows, and so forth.
Spanish Casino. 54th avenue, corner to 27th Street. (Provincial Museum)
Built in 1893 to be used by the associations of Spanish immigrants and their descendants. Its aims were promoting cultural traditions of the Spanish regions present in the partners of the casino. This building has 9 expositional rooms; living rooms and dining room set, room for transitory expositions, room for private collections, room for identity and culture, and a room for history and archeology. Among the collections in exposition you can find the work of different artists such as Adolfo Meana, Fidelio Ponce, Wilfredo Lam, and the artist from Cienfuegos, Mateo Torriente. Imporrtant collections of biscuit, original furniture of the Spanish Casino, and the table of Acisclo del Valle family, the only one of this type in Cuba and representative for the use of different types of Italian marble.
Bar-Cafeteria El Palatino. 54th avenue between 25th and 27th.
Palatino is one of the oldest constructions around the square. It has specific features of the XIX century with roots in the architecture of Trinidad. Besides it is a leading place of the gastronomy in Cienfuegos due to its history as bar and gastronomic center. In the portal, visitors can enjoy a very good “mojito” and the Cuban son while they watch Jose Marti Square.
Provincial Goverment. 54th avenue, corner to 29th street.
Built between 1927 and 1950. The image it has today is from the first half of the XX century. It is example of the architecture of political and government institutions of Cuban eclecticism in Cienfuegos with an American influence. It has been seat of important historical, political, social and cultural facts in the city. Nowadays it is the seat of Provincial Assembly of the Popular Power.
House of the Founder. 29th street, corner to 54th avenue.
The house of the city founder, Mr. Don Luis D´Clouet, dates back from the first half of the XIX century and it is one of the few examples of domestic architecture of neoclassic style. During different historical phases, this house worked as commercial institution, coffee industry, touristic and gastronomical center. Nowadays it is a store mainly for souvenirs and Cuban products. Besides it promotes the sale of Cuban rum and cigars.
Polinesio Restaurant. 5410, 29th street between 54th and 56th.
It is part of the former House of the City Founder. It also had the same functions as coffee industry, commercial and gastronomical institution. Nowadays it is Polinesio Restaurant, and its specialty is creole food.
Cathedral “Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción”. 29th Street, corner to 56th avenue.
Located almost in the same place where it was celebrated the first mass in 1819 by the priest Antonio Loreto Sanchez. It is considered one of the oldest buildings in the city. The construction began in 1833 with a 20meters tower and since 1845 it started working as church. The second tower, with 36 meters, was started on February 1848 and finished on May 1852. At that time the church got eight artistic images, among them, the image of “Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción” (our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) shaped in Barcelona and donated by the landowner Domingo Sarria. With the aim expanding the former church and give it the appropriate image according to the peoples’ needs, the north American civil engineer Santiago Murray was in charge of designing the plans and the necessary information to finish the restoration on December 8th, 1869; the day of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the city´s Patron Saint. The architectonic style is Doric in the façade and inside. It has twelve chapels, six on each side. Glass windows on the twelve upper windows represents the twelve apostles and they complete the group with two of Jesus Crist placed in the front part. On December 25th, 1917 it was declared consecrated cathedral in a conference presided by Mgr. Valentin Zubizarreta, bishop in Camaguey and apostolic manager of Cienfuegos.
Prado Promenade. 37th Street since 40th to 72th avenues.
The promenade is It is a key site to see the daily work of the city. It is the dividing axis between the old Cienfuegos and the modern one. It begins at the entrance of the city and goes until the malecon. It is the longest Promenade of this type in Cuba.
Benny More Statue. 37th Street and 54th avenue.
Benny More was an emblematic figure of the Cuban music born in Santa Isabel de las Lajas, a municipality of Cienfuegos. Better known as “El Barbaro del Ritmo” by the sonority of his songs. Maybe the fact of being autodidact made him more famous. It is still a mystery how he got to be a master of orchestra, composer and singer without having studied music. His grave is in Lajas and it was declared national Monument in 2009. This statue was made by Jose Villa Soberon, it´s made of bronze with no pedestal. He is like walking because wants to invite visitors to visit the boulevard. The statue was put over the Promenade in 2004.
Malecon. 37th Street, since 40th avenue to 24th.
This promenade by the sea links the Historical Center with the residential zone of Punta Gorda. It is an excellent viewpoint of the bay.
Hotel Palacio Azul. 37th Street between 12th and 14th avenues.
Next to Cienfuegos Yatch Club, it is an example of eclecticism in Cienfuegos and expression of the heritage riches. Ceilings and floors are samples of the architecture of that time with original valances and the use of different mosaics in the floors. This building highlights due to its dome covered by golden pottery. Since 2003 it works a s Hotel Palacio Azul. In 2007 won the condition of “Charming Hotel”. It was the first one in the country to won that condition by its architectonic, cultural, and historical values. As curiosity we can say it has only seven rooms and each of them is named after a flower. (Marilope, Cienfuegos flower; Mariposa, National flower; Verbena; Orchid, Dahlia; Daisy, and Pink lili)
Cienfuegos Yatch Club. 37th Street between 8th and 12th avenues.
The former Cienfuegos Yatch Club. This beautiful building has witnessed nautical traditions in the city since 1920 when it was inaugurated in August, 31rst. It has three floors ending with a dome and four towers; two of them are viewpoints. It is painted in white with the domes in green which is the sport color in Cienfuegos. This Club has two restaurants inside, mainly for sea food:
Marinero Restaurant: On the first floor. Offers different options of sea food, for example “paella” and fish fillet. Opened every day from 12.00 m to 3.00 pm
Café Cienfuegos Restaurant: On the third floor. The specialty of the Chef is “fillet mignon comodoro” with mushroom sauce, shrimps, red wine and vegetables. For those who love Habanos, this is the right place. There you can delight many different brands of Habanos. Opened every day only for dinner, from 6.00 pm to 10.00pm
Sculpture Park. 37th Street, corner to 10th avenue.
This place is an important achievement in the landscape and cultural image of Cienfuegos city. Sculpture were made by 17 artists of different ages and artistic codes, and also from different parts of the country. Materials used in the sculpture were also different: stone, granite stone, concrete, steel, metal, among others. Each sculpture has its name and the authors´
Jagua Hotel. 37th Street between 2nd avenue and Punta Gorda Coast.
Emblematic hotel. It is sample of Cuban rationalism giving the area of Punta Gorda, a touch of modernity. Inaugurated by the revolutionary government on December 31rst, 1959. It is considered one of the best hotels out of the capital of Cuba. It ranks in top regarding preferences of foreigner and national tourists, what turns the hotel into an important symbol of the Cuban hospitality. It is also known as the
Del Valle Palace. 37th Street and 0 avenue.
One of the city´s symbol and example of the opulence of that time. At the beginnings it was known as “Quinta Morisca”. The construction was ended in 1917 at the cost of 1.5 million Cuban pesos. It was designed by the architect Pablo Donato Carbonell, from Cienfuegos, and the construction was guided by the Italian engineer Alfredo Colli Fanconetti with workers from France, Italy, Arabia, and Cuba. Materials were imported from Italy and United States and they used Cuban wood. This building has three levels with a basement and ends in three towers, a Gothic one, an Indian and the third one resembles an Arabian minaret. These towers have been interpreted as symbols of love, religion and strength. It has the condition of Local Monument since January 30th, 1990. Nowadays it is considered the most luxurious restaurant in Cienfuegos. It also offers guided tours. Price: 4.00 cuc with a cocktail included.
La Punta. 35th Street between the Coast and 0 avenue.
In 2000 it was declared National Monument. The aborigines living in the region during the colonization named “Tureira” (for them, it meant shiny and beautiful thing) to that piece of land that, surrounded by the blue waters of Jagua Bay, became in an important summer area since de second half of the XIX century. There is only one possible way to get there due to the shape of the territory. The houses in that area have formal typology with great American and Caribbean influence, and most of them are made of wood with two levels.
Some other attractions in Cienfuegos, Cuba:
Reina Cemetery. 7th Street between 50th and 52nd avenues.
Construction in which beauty, majesty and respect go together. General cemetery or Reina Cemetery as it is known was built in 1839. It is the only in the country which have three lines of vertical niches that´s why today we can know about that old way of burial which also shows the artistic level Cienfuegos had gotten regarding uses of marble and molten iron. The sculptures show the funeral dignity of all those who could pay to express it. One of these sculptures is “The Sleeping Beauty” is related to a legend. On the niches we find dates of the year 1830. Some important personalities from the independence wars of 1868 and 1895 are also buried there in mass graves. It was declared National Monument.
Tomas Acea Cemetery. Avenue 5 de Septiembre Km 31/2.
The mystery of death leads inevitably to silence and meditation. The cemetery in Cienfuegos named “Tomas Acea” in honor to one of the wealthiest families in the region, is one of the best of this type in Cuba. The cemetery was thought and developed by the engineers Pablo Donato Carbonell and Luis Felipe Ros and it is an important example of most modern foreign and north American concepts related to funeral edifications. As a result, we have this garden-cemetery that exploits the wavy terrain to include this construction to the beauty of the Cienfuegos landscape. It was declared national Monument in April 17th, 1986.
Fortress “Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua”.
Community Castillo de Jagua. It is one of the symbols of this province. The fortress “Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de Jagua” ws built in 1745. The project was made by Jose Tantete who designed this building in stone, with a cubic structure, two levels and a drawbridge. He took the style of the famous French engineer Sebastian Le Pestre who made his own system of fortifications known as “Vauban”. During the XVIII it served to protect the city against the attack of pirates but in 1762 had an important role in the Cuban history when it was the seat of the Spanish military rule during the short English occupation in Cuba. It was declared National Monument since October 10th, 1978.
Just 13 km from the city of Cienfuegos you can find the municipality of Palmira. It is a town with strong Afro-Cuban roots. The Yoruba Pantheon is there as well as municipal museum.
Santa Isabel de las Lajas.
Hometown of Benny More, important personality of the Cuban music. In this city you can find the Municipal Museum and the Casino of Congos where Benny started his career as musician. Every August 24th, anniversary of his birth and February 19th, anniversary of his death; there is a pilgrimage to his grave as testimony of respect and admiration to him.