Along the Southeastern coastline of Cuba, the port city of Santiago de Cuba greets the Caribbean each day with the hustle and bustle of a cultural capital full of Afro-Caribbean culture. A city rivaled only in population and size by the capital city of Havana, today Santiago de Cuba enjoys a culturally rich and exquisitely intriguing society of Cuban people with deep seeded, multi-generational roots in the city. With a little over half a million inhabitants, travelers from across the globe descend, if only for a few short sea-misted days, to wander the time-worn streets and greet the friendly people.
Both the geography and topography of Santiago de Cuba play an important role in its diverse makeup. Nestled between the Sierra Maestra mountain range and the azure sparkle of the Caribbean sea, Santiago is closer in proximity to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than to Havana itself. This factor alone contributes greatly to the influence from the East that has helped shape the city’s distinct identity. No where else in Cuba will you experience such a colorful array of traditions and people.
One might say Santiago’s modern history begins where a peaceful Cuba ends when Fidel and his revolutionaries launched their attack on the Moncada Barracks beginning the revolt still apparent throughout the entire country of Cuba today. As the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution, the cities historical sites are plentiful.
This coming year, Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation are offering multiple trips including visits to Santiago de Cuba with chances to meet with the local people, visit the historic sites (including a guided tour through the Moncada Barracks) and expereince the full city of Santiago. You can read the individual itineraries here:
Fun Fact: Desi Arnaz, the beloved actor was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1917. His father was the youngest mayor in Santiago’s history.