On the request of the veterans of the Independance Wars Virgen del Cobre was officially declared the Saint Guardian of Cuba. The Sanctuary is situated in El Cobre 20 kilometers from Santiago. The route is considered a mini-pilgrimage and many people are covering it on foot to ask the Virgin for health and success. Virgen del Cobre is often reffered to as "The Virgen Mambi" because it was considered the guardian of the rebels fighting for the liberty of Cuba.
Related story - "The appearance of the Virgen"
The fortress situated at the entrance of the Bahia (Bay) of Santiago was built in 1639 as a part of the defensive system against the Carribbean pirates that often invaded the city of Santiago. There is a museum of the pirates, flibustieres, buccaneros with original swords and pistols from that time. The fortress was used as a prison and some prominent figures - Emilio Baccardi, Dominga Moncada etc. were held prisoners there. Also there is a museum of the decisive sea battle during the Hispano-American War 1898.
Related story - "Santiago and Sierra Maestra. The Mambi"
It is a really impresiive cathedral and the stunning fact is that it was built only 30 years after Columbus discovered America and 7 years after the foundation of the city. Next to it is the first University in Cuba founded by fray Geronimo Valdes in 1722.
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Diego Velazquez was the first governer of Cuba and the founder of the city of Santiago de Cuba. His palace is far from the standarts of the classical royal palaces in Europe but, nevertheless, is a beautiful representative of the architecture of the colonial times. Later it was owned by some of the most prominent families of Santiago and their life style is well presented by the furniture, glasses, plates etc. exposed in the museum.
Related story - "Conquistadors and State in Cuba"
Near the palace there is a Balcony with a splendid view over the bahia where the governer used to go every morning to supervise the activities in the bay. Now it is a kind of museum where apart from Diego Velazquez also the first mayor of Santiago and the conquerer of Mexico - Hernan Cortez and the conquerer of Florida - de Soto, are presented.
Related story - "Races and religions in Cuba"
Accomodated in a typical Creole house in the center of Santiago Casa de la Trova is the heart and soul of the world famous Cuban music. Santiago always used to be and still is the cradle of the Cuban music, the beautiful rythms and harmonies born in the streets, corners and squares of Chago and Casa de la Trova is where you can here the Cubans singing and playing their evergreens in wide variety of formats.
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It is housed by one of the building belonging to Baccardi family. There you can hear the story of Facundo Baccardi - the creator of the contemporary rum ligero, you can see how the rum is made, witness the beautiful collection of luxurious Cuban rums and taste on of the best - Santiago Anejo.
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The Santiago Carnival (21 to 28 of July) is considered the best in Cuba. In the museum you can see typical costumes, instruments, photos of carnivals since 1940 and from Monday to Saturday from 4:00 p.m. there is a show representing the African roots of the Cuban music and dancing.
Related story - "Culture and Religious Traditions of Cuba".
The most intersesting place in Plaza Dolores is the former Jesuit Convent (now a secondary school) and its church (now Concert Hall) by the name of Virgen de los Dolores. Among the disciples of the college are Fidel Castro (who later graduated another Jesuit College in Havana - Colegio Belem) and by far the most picturesque and unique politician of Cuba - Eduardo Chibas.
Related story - "Politics and self-sacrifice in the Cuban social life".