It is the second most important city in Cuba, capital of the province of the same name, located in the east of the country. It was founded in 1515 by the Spanish conqueror Diego Velázquez. From here departed the conqueror Hernán Cortés for his conquest of Mexico.
In this city is the Bay of Santiago de Cuba and the port of the same name, through which the first black slaves entered Cuba. Also from its outskirts, the Sierra Maestra, a mountain chain in the East of Cuba, is famous for being the refuge and headquarters of the rebels under the command of Fidel Castro. Being linked to many of the relevant historical events on the island is known as Hero City. In this city there is also the old fortress and Moncada barracks, the scene of the historic assault that gave rise to the war that culminated in the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
The city is characterized by the conjugation of different architectural styles, from the baroque to the neoclassical. This highlights the tree-lined parks, the stepped streets, the colonial buildings with huge windows and tight balconies. In Santiago, historical treasures are preserved, such as the first house in America, the first cathedral in Cuba, the first open-pit copper mine in the entire American continent and the first Cuban museum.
But undoubtedly one of the most distinctive elements of Santiago de Cuba is precisely its people, who stand out for their joviality, joy and hospitality.
Santiago de Cuba is also the cradle of a large number of the native musical genres of Cuba and they are known throughout the world as they are: The son and the bolero, the traditional trova and the choral expression have a deep root. Great musicians were born there, such as Sindo Garay, Ñico Saquito, Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, Olga Guillot.
The most important popular festivals are "The Santiago de Cuba Carnival", the best in the country and "La Fiesta del Fuego"
Among the attractions of Santiago are:
• The Castle of San Pedro de la Roca, declared by UNESCO in 1997 as a World Heritage Site, where it is cited as "the most complete and best preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on principles of Italian and Renaissance design."
• Ruins of coffee plantations: which constitute archaeological landscapes of the first coffee plantations in southeastern Cuba and that were declared by UNESCO in 2000 as a World Heritage Site
• Baconao Park was registered in 1987 by Unesco in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. It is a National Park that covers a wide mountain and coast region about 20 km east of the city of Santiago de Cuba that covers an area of about 84,600 hectares.