The Jewel of the Caribbean

The Colonial city of Trinidad is one of Cuba's most marvellous sights. The historic city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, as an almost-perfectly preserved jewel of Spanish Colonial architecture. Trinidad grew rich on sugar from the nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Sugar Mill Valley), and this wealth is still evidenced in the magnificent colonial mansions, airy courtyards, Baroque church towers, and Carrara marble floors. The churches, art galleries and museums are all worth visiting, as they allow you to see inside these magnificent buildings. This combination of historic surroundings, warm Caribbean climate and the slow pace of life makes time appear to stand still, and gives the whole city the feel of an open-air museum where horses and carts clatter along the cobbles led by tanned country-folk.

There is more to Trinidad than simple cobbled streets: the city is backed by the imposing Sierra del Escambray (Escambray Mountains) and the Topes de Collantes National Park, with excellent options for walking and hiking in the great outdoors. A few miles to the south is Playa Ancon, one of Southern Cuba's best beaches, and within easy access for a day trip.

Trinidad was founded in 1514 and was a haven for smugglers until the late 18th century. Smugglers brought slaves and gold from Jamaica, but a slave revolt in Haiti in the early 19th century caused French planters to flee to Trinidad, where they re-established their mini-empires. The Wars of Independence devastated the region's sugar plantations and the town fell into obscurity, but the legacy of this short-lived wealth can still be seen, lived and breathed in the city's unique ambience.

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