Top Destinations for 2016: Cuba
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Cuba, the mysterious country with a rich, revolutionary history, has always been a top tourist destination for people intrigued by the country’s history. Its well preserved natural habitats also attract nature lovers and adventurers in droves, as many people seek to experience the unique Caribbean environment for themselves. Located where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet, the Republic of Cuba is the largest Caribbean island in Latin America. You can discover a plethora of unique flora and fauna in Sierra Maestra, amidst of the hot and sunny tropical climate. The long and beautiful coast and beach resorts in Varadero are the best places to spend a long, relaxing holiday; but if you fancy learning more about the Spanish colonial and revolutionary history of the island, you must pay a visit to the capital city Havana. Currently undergoing significant economic reforms, such as increased trade with other countries, this might be the last chance you have to experience the ‘real’, authentic Cuba before globalisation truly takes hold. Where to go Old Havana With a population of 2.1 million citizens, the city centre of the capital city is one of the most charming tourist attractions. Discovered by the Spanish in the 16th Century, the city is deeply influenced by this colonial culture. Plaza de la Catedral is an example of Cuban Baroque architecture completed in 1777 by the Franciscans. It’s legendary for supposedly holding Christopher Columbus’s remains between 1796 and 1898. When you visit the cathedral, you should wander inside to admire the vaulted ceilings and statue of St Christopher. After the visit, you can take a break at one of the cafés and enjoy the fascinating façade view. Plaza de Armas is the social hub in the city; apart from the wide variety of cafes and restaurants where visitors can have a coffee break, it is also home to several local landmarks. Palacio de Los Capitanes, a former mansion that hosted more than 60 Spanish generals over the years, has turned into a city museum for visitors to have a glance over history and allows music concerts to be held in its courtyard. Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the mid-16th-century colonial fort, is another hot spot. Trinidad The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad was originally established for sugar and slave trade. The colourful 16th-century town is one of the most well-preserved in the colonial community. It’s home to the some of the most impressive Spanish colonial mansions, plazas and churches in Cuba. Plaza Mayor is the historical centre of Trinidad and is an ideal starting point for sightseeing. You can pay a visit to MuseoHistorico Municipal, a museum located in the neoclassical Palacio Cantero mansion. The mansion was built in the early 1800s with Italian marble floors and large open rooms. After stopping by to learn the history of Trinidad, visit the world heritage-listed Valle de Los Ingenios for information about the industry of slave trading and the wars of independence. About 12 kilometres away from Trinidad is Playa Ancon, one of the finest white sand beaches on the south coast of Cuba. This beach tends to be less crowded than others nearby and makes an ideal spot to relax and unwind.
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