Santa Clara is the capital city of the Cuban province of Villa Clara. It is located in the most central region of the province and almost in the most central region of the country
Santa Clara was founded by 175 people on July 15th, 1689. One hundred and thirty-eight of them were represented by two large families already living in the area and, therefore, owners of the land next to the new city. The other 37 came from 7 other families, a priest and a governor, all of them originating in the coastal city of "San Juan de los Remedios". The population of Remedios was torn between the option of leaving their city, constantly besieged by pirate attacks, or staying in place. While most of them finally decided to stay, these 37 persons traveled south and, on June 1st, 1689 they arrive to the hill where they rejoined the other two existing families. A mass was given under a Tamarind tree and the city was born. Since then, the place under the tree is known as "Loma Del Carmen" (Carmen's Hill). A second generation church exists in a beautiful park along the place with a monument commemorating the event surrounded by a fourth generation Tamarind tree.
At its beginnings, the settlement was called Cayo Nuevo, then Dos Cayos, Villa Nueva de Santa Clara, Pueblo Nuevo de Antón Diaz, Villa Clara and finally Santa Clara.
Construction of the city began not far from Carmen's Hill. Following the Spanish standards, a perfect squared layout with a central plaza (Plaza Mayor today Parque Vidal) was developed. The first buildings erected were the Cabildo (City Council) and a modest palm tree church. This building was enhanced in 1725 to a brick one, and stayed the center of the Parque Vidal until August 22, 1923 when it was torn down in order to expand the plaza and build a new church close by. Back then, and still nowadays, this decision, taken by the mayor, was highly criticized. The building, while not a gem of architecture, was not entirely unpleasant to the eye and certainly an example of the older colonial structure in the city. Resulting from this expropriation by the City Council, a complaint was raised by religious figures and a total of 77 850.00 pesos were paid in fines to the Church, a considerable sum that would represent millions of pesos today.
Soon after the foundation, a theatre, a chamber of commerce, meeting clubs, public libraries and dance halls were erected as well. The position of the city, almost in the very center of the country, made it as a perfect halt and a great communication link, east-west and north-south, creating a slow but unstoppable growth. By the 19th century, Santa Clara was bigger and more populated than the rest of the towns around, including what was once Remedios. As a necessary stop between Havana and the east of the country, the city gained the title of Las Villas province capital.
In Santa Clara's center is a park (Parque Vidal) and it is laid on an entire square block. In the park there is a statue of Marta Abreu, a person much loved by the people of Santa Clara. Bordering the park is the Santa Clara Libre (formerly the Gran Hotel), Teatro de La Caridad (a National Monument of Cuba.), the Plaza del Mercado Central, the former City Hall and the Colonia Espanola de Santa Clara center of dance, offers the most attractive and unique traditional customs of hinterland Cuba.
Parque Vidal is probably one of the most typical places in Cuba. During the afternoons, people (specially singles) visit the park to meet others. Although not widely practiced in recent times, the custom was to walk the park around and around. The women walk the inner part of the park, while the men walk the outer side. Another lost custom was for the locals to set up a platform and offer improvisations with their guitars on late Sunday afternoons. For that day they dressed with their Guayaberas and highly polished shoes.
Santa Clara is home to a mausoleum which houses the remains of Che Guevara and sixteen of his fellow combatants killed in 1967 during the Bolivia campaign. There is also a reconstruction of Guevara derailing the train during the Battle of Santa Clara.
Prior to 1 January 1977, Santa Clara was located in Las Villas Province. On that date, as part of a general administrating reordering of Cuba's provinces, Las Villas province was reordered into the provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Sancti Spiritus, so Santa Clara became the capital of Villa Clara province.
Tourism and cuba holidays
Located in a position that favors the contact with other provinces, Villa Clara is the region where the course of economical and social life of its inhabitants constitutes a process of constant updating.
In the field of tourism, Villa Clara progressively creates offers for the visitors to enjoy its natural and cultural values.
While its houses keep a humble image, metallurgical industry notably grows. "Tradition and Development" seems to be the motto that encourages this people, sympathetic and rebellious at the same time, what makes them be addressed as "the unquiet towns".
The presence of Ernesto Guevara's Museum and Memorial, where the mortal remains of the heroic guerrilla and his fellow fighters rest, is a proof of the presence of the unforgettable commander in the territory of Villa Clara.
The Museo de Historia Abel Santamaria and the monument commemorating the attack to the armored train by Che are symbols of the historical dimension of this city.
Nature in this province offers different perspectives: the environment of the Hanabanilla river, characterized by the presence of numberless plant species, a rich fauna, a beautiful waterfall, and a man-made dam.
Being coastal territories, the municipalities of Sagua la Grande and Caibarien have attractive offers for fishing, especially trout fishing, counting on dams devoted to that purpose.
The northern keys of the province show a wide scope of islets having suggesting names: Las Brujas, Ensenachos, Maja, and Las Picuas are a proof of the abundance of keys making our country be an archipelago. In them, aboriginal life has left a notable trace.
The Elguea Spa constitutes another offer. Its medicinal waters are traditionally preferred by visitors looking for the right therapeutic treatment.
The hotels Hanabanilla, Santa Clara Libre, La Granjita, and the motel Los Caneyes support current tourist development.