“If you want an interesting history of how the city was founded, Santa Clara is perfect example. While I was reading about it I was amazed. As I read on Wikipedia it was founded by 175 people on 15th of July, 1689. Most of those people were from two big families that were already living in the area, 138 of them to be exact. Rest of the people came from San Juan de los Remedios, city which was constantly besieged by pirate attacks. Throughout history city changed it’s name quite few times, until finally named Santa Clara.
Santa Clara has almost quarter of a million inhabitants and it’s the capital city of Villa Clara Province, right in the middle of Cuba. Centre of the city is Parque Leoncio Vidal, with Neo classical and colonial buildings surrounding it. Park Vidal is everyone’s favorite place to hang out, lately cause this is where you can access internet, but before it was where single people met each other. Women walk the inner part of the park and men walk outer side, around and around. Unfortunately lately everyone is there because of internet. There is also statue of Marta Abreu, “the benefactress of the city”, she funded a lot of buildings in the city, like schools, asylum, public laundry stations…
City also has the most prestigious university outside of Havana. There is many many faculties so Santa Clara has a lot of students.
Santa Clara holds the only official drag beauty pageant in Cuba. It also has Club El Mejunje, which is LGBT cultural centre. You can visit it any day of the week and you are gonna find some event or party. It’s very popular with locals and tourists.
As most of you know, Santa Clara is resting place of Ernesto Che Guevara. He is Cuban hero, one of the main if not the main hero during Cuban Revolution. He was born in Argentina, but joined Castro in revolution. Great leader as he was, after few victories he already got promoted to second in charge. Last fight in Cuban revolution was in Santa Clara and it’s surrounding. Che led one column of the guerrilla and Camilo Cienfuegos led the second column. Che first captured garrison and after that he used bulldozer to destroy railroad tracks which resulted in derailed train full of troops, weapons and supplies. While Che was fighting his own battle, Camilo Cienfuegos led column into the fight just a little bit outside of Santa Clara, where he defeated army garrison. Result of all this was that Batista escaped the country in less then 12 hours after big victories! Castro reign began after that!
Che Guevara fought in Congo after for a little bit, before going to Bolivia where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces. Which led to his execution. Later on retired Bolivian general Mario Vargas revealed where Che and his fellow combatants were buried. After excavating and identifying remains, they were brought and buried in Santa Clara in so called Che Guevara’s Mausoleum.
A little bit out of the city centre you can find Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado. Site where Che and his troops derailed a train full of Batista soldiers and supplies. On this site you can actually see bulldozer that was used for this derailing and few train carriages. Inside carriages you can find exhibits that show process of the battle.
Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis is the most important church in the city and it’s built in Neo Gothic style. You can find it just across El Mejunje Club
You can also find many graffitis around the city!
… and Cuban style barber shop
In general Santa Clara is nice city to visit if you have extra one or two days in your itinerary or if you are big fan of Che Guevara!
Goodbye Santa Clara, let’s go to Varadero!