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UNESCO Heritage Sites in Cuba

UNESCO Heritage Sites in Cuba
Cuba's Sites are a Living Lesson in History and Geography
© Jessica McCurdy Crooks
Sep 13, 2009
Canon in , Tessa Hatlelid

Cuba's UNESCO World Heritage Sites pay homage to the Spanish settlers
who made the island their home. A heritage that has endowed the island
with sites of great beauty.

Not surprisingly given its rich history and size, Cuba has the most
UNESCO Heritage sites of any of the Caribbean islands. The rich heritage
of the Spanish settlers and the natural beauty of the island have not
escaped notice. The island now has nine sites listed on UNESCO's
Heritage list with another three pending inclusion.

Cuba's nine UNESCO Heritage Sites are:

Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the
South-East of Cuba (added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000)

The Sierra Maestra foothills in eastern Cuba has the remains of 19th and
20th century coffee plantations. These act as a history lesson on the
development of this type of in Cuba and the Caribbean.

Old Havana & Its Fortifications (added to the UNESCO World Heritage List
in 1982)

Havana, Cuba's capital is a remarkable picture of Baroque and
neoclassical remains from its long history. Founded in 1519, Havana
still has much of the old charm and buildings which are a testament to
its past. Many of the homes still have wrought-iron gates, balconies and
internal courtyards.

Trinidad & the Valley de los Ingenious (added to the UNESCO World
Heritage List in 1988)

Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenious (interpreted as Valley of the
Mills) are combined as one site on the UNESCO list. Trinidad was
named to honor the Holy Trinity. Today, buildings made in the 18th and
19th century still stands. Most notable are the Palacio Brunet and the
Palacio Cantero. The Valley is really a series of three valleys, namely,
San Luis, Santa Rosa and Meyer. Many of the sugar mills are in ruins but
some structures still stand, such as the barracones (slave quarters) and
tower. This site is a testament to the days when sugar was king.

San Pedro de la Roca Castle, (added to the UNESCO World
Heritage List in 1997)

This site is among the best examples of Italian and Renaissance design
of military engineering in the world. They are also unique in that the
fortifications were specially adapted to suit the landscape of the Cuban

Desembarco del National Park (added to the UNESCO World Heritage
List in 1999)

UNESCO's reason for adding this site is that its, "ongoing development
of karst topography and features, represent a globally significant
example of geomorphologic and physiographic features…" The area depicts
the continued development of geological processes.

Included as part of the park are the Cabo Cruz marine terraces, and
various species of birds, reptiles and mammals with many being endemic
to Cuba. Added to this is the historical significance of the region. The
area has links to the island's first inhabitants, the Taina. A 19th
century lighthouse, almost intact, can be seen in the area as well.

Historic Centre of Camagüey (added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in

The city is unusual with its many winding roadways, blind alleys and
single exit which were built as a defense against attacks. This
maze-like design was especially important because of the numerous raids
by pirates. It is this architectural design of the city, one of the
seven built by the Spanish settlers that has led to its listing. There
are various influences that can be seen in Camagüey, such as Art Deco,
Art Noveau, and neo-colonialism.

Sadly, just one month after it was listed on the UNESCO list, the
Historic Centre of Camagüey was badly damaged by Hurricane Ike in
September 2008. Some of the rooftop sculptures on the old buildings were

Urban Historic Centre of (added to the UNESCO World Heritage
List in 2005)

Established in 1819, the town was first settled by French immigrants
before becoming a city in 1829. Cienfuegos when translated means
'Hundred Fires'. The city was placed on the UNESCO Heritage list as an
example of urban planning based on 19th century Spanish Enlightenment.
In fact UNESCO refers to the area as "the first and an outstanding
example of an architectural ensemble…" Some famous landmarks are:

* Arco de Triunfo
* Cathedral de la Purisma Conception which was constructed from
* Definario (home to sea lions and dolphins)
* Palmira Yorubá Pantheon, a museum dedicated to the fusion of
African & Catholic religious beliefs.
* Government Palace or City Hall

Viñales Valley (added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999)

The Viñales Valley is where the centuries old traditional method of
tobacco farming can still be seen today. Added to the old farming
methods, there are remains the architecture, music and craftsmanship of
a bygone era. In short, time seems to have stood still under the
outcroppings of the karst landscape.

Sites on the Tentative List

Interestingly, Cuba has another three sites up for consideration for the
UNESCO World Heritage List. These sites are the:

* Ciénaga de Zapata National Park
* National Schools of Art, Cubanacán
* Reef in the Cuban Caribbean

UNESCO Heritage Sites in Cuba: Cuba's Sites are a Living Lesson in
History and Geography | (14 September 2009)

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