Santa Clara is a more modern city in the center of the island. Here you find the remains of the Hero of International Socialism Che Guevara. He delivered in December 1958 a decisive battle against the troops of Batista that helped the Cuban Revolution to power. Che Guevara died 10 years later in Bolivia in an attempt to copy the Cuban Revolution in the Andes of South America. His remains were brought over to Cuba and set in the monument to him at the Plaza de la Revolucion of Santa Clara. The city is also a great base to set out into the mountains of the Escambray, to visit the colonial village of Remedios or to go to the keys in the north.
Remedios was one of the first settlements founded by the Spaniards and then forgotten in time. The village is the source of many folk stories and this strong sense of local identity lives on in the yearly parrandas or folk festival on the 24th of December. The village has one the most beautiful churches of Cuba with a golden retable and a story to tell.
At the Plaza de la Revolucion you find the Mausoleum of the international hero of socialism Ernesto Che Guevara. This Argentinian doctor was part of the rebel army of Fidel Castro. He was leading the troops that fought a decisive battle over Batista in December 1958 in Santa Clara. Thanks to this victory Fidel Castro came to power. Che Guevara left Cuba in 1966 and waged socialist inspired revolutions in Africa and Bolivia. He died there in 1968 but his remains have been transferred to Cuba and set out in a mausoleum in Santa Clara. There is also a museum dedicated to the life and ideas of Che Guevara.
Sierra del Escambray
Santa Clara is a great starting point to explore the mountains of the Escambray. You will find there the Hanabanilla Lake. You can do a boat trip on the lake and discover the natural surroundings. Higher up in the mountains you find El Nicho waterfalls. Along a short trail you find several waterfalls beautifully surrounded by tropical nature. In many of the falls you can swim.
Located to the northeast of Santa Clara city, you find the colonial village of San Juan de los Remedios. Just sitting on the square and observing provincial life is a treat. The square has 2 churches, a few colonial boutique hotels, a nice bar with terrace, trees and benches. It is all about a quiet tropical sunny afternoon with horse carriages and bicycles passing by. On the 24th December the village is on fire when the 2 quarters compete against one another in a contest on who has the nicest party carriage. It is accompanied with fireworks and a lot of drinking.
You can drive from Santa Clara or Remedios to the beaches of Cayo Las Brujas and Cayo Santa Maria. A 42 km road of bridges takes you there straight through the sea. Most beaches are taken out by hotels but Villas Cayo Las Brujas has easy access and a great beach. It’s a completely different world from mainland Cuba with only forest, beaches and sea.
The Sugar Industry and Steam trains
On the way from Remedios to Caibarien there is a museum about the Cuban sugar industry. You see how sugar cane was harvested over the centuries and molded into sugar. Steam trains were an essential part in this. You see an exhibition of locomotives and there is also a daily opportunity to go from the Sugar Industry Museum to Remedios in a real functional steam train.
Central base for visits in the center of Cuba
Santa Clara can be a perfect base to visit the colonial cities of Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Sancti Spiritus. Also, the area of the Bay of Pigs is an option if you are more interested in nature exploring. Thanks to its central location and good accommodation options Santa Clara can be your base to explore the full central part of the island.