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First settled in 1541, Trinidad is a city that will take you back in time. As you explore you’ll hear the clacker of horse hoofs on the cobblestone streets and laneways too narrow for the modern day car. The layer of terracotta roofs is pierced only by the occasional bell tower or church spire, themselves only rivalled in height by slowly swaying palm trees. The jewel in Cuba’s crown is undoubtedly the city of Trinidad.
Trinidad is tucked away near the southern coast of Cuba, about halfway down the island. The city is only small, with about 75,000 people calling it home. In her day she was a major player in the sugarcane industry which was the biggest industry in Cuba, until the US trade embargo and collapse of the USSR sent prices plummeting. Since then the town became somewhat of a backwater and very little development occurred over the following decades. As a result, the historic centre of the city has remained largely intact, and earned it a UNESCO World Heritage listing.
The architecture is the main draw card for the city now. The cobblestone streets are lined with small row houses painted in soft pastel colours. This was of course, all before air conditioners were invented so most houses and buildings have large holes in the walls. With glass hard to come by, the holes were simply fitted with steel cages instead. As you walk through the city streets you can see bakers baking, school kids taking their classes, and chefs cooking up today’s special.
The Plaza Mayor is the towns central square and home to the most impressive buildings. The two most notable are the Church of the Holy Trinity and the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. The latter was the first church built in the city, but has been mostly destroyed except for its bell tower which soars above all others in the city. From here you get the most amazing view over the maze of cobblestone streets, terracotta roofs and surrounding countryside.
It’s best to stay a night or two in Trinidad as you will fall in love with her charm. A short drive south of the city takes you to Playa Ancon which has western style beach resorts. And just to the west of the city is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valle de los Ingenios, a historic sugarcane growing area.
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