A Few Days in Cienfuegos, Cuba – Pt I
Cienfuegos, Cuba sits on the edge of the Caribbean, on the Bahia de Cienfuegos, about 85km west of Trinidad. Known as the “Pearl of the South”, Cienfuegos is recognized for it’s Neoclassical and French-inspired architecture dating from the early 19th century. Because of this, the city’s historic centre was declared a UNESCO World Hertiage site in 2005, preserving what they say is the best example of early Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning.
It’s a smaller city – about 150,000 people and easily walkable with a lengthy malecón leading straight into the bay. The bar in the circular park at the end of this seawall served up the best mojitos we had in three weeks on the island. And it was a take-out bar in a public park – not too shabby! We dined at a very small palador called Blue Bahia one evening and the almondine grilled fish was incredible. Highly recommended. Isabel and Pepe at Hostal Colonial will take good care of you in their large, interestingly furnished home a few blocks from Paseo del Prado. The local people were perhaps the friendliest we met in the country and tourism doesn’t seem to affect much – in fact, we hardly noticed other travelers at all. Just before the dinner hour, people took over the streets and conversations came quickly and naturally as we wandered the avenues.
World-famous Cuban singer Benny Moré called Cienfuegos “the city I like the most”. While it wasn’t my top pick for urban centres in Cuba, it did have a lot going for it. A return trip would likely peel back a few more layers in this quiet, friendly place.
I shot a collection of images from the three days we spent in Cienfuegos last December (including a few I’ve posted here & here). Here’s the first batch of my Cienfeugos ‘citybook’, with another to follow. Enjoy!
Cienfuegos, Cuba, 2011.