Cuba: holidays, events, climate
There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date but are based on the location of Easter. Easter takes place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which ends on Holy Saturday, is 46 days before Holy Saturday. The date for Pentecost is then 50 days after Easter. Corpus Christi is celebrated on the second Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the first Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.
|January 1||Revolution Day/Día de la Revolucíon|
|January 2||Victory Day Celebrations|
|February 28||Birthday of José Martí|
|8th of March||International Women’s Day|
|April 19||Victory in the Bay of Pigs|
|1st of May||Labor Day|
|June||Cucalumba festival in Las Tunas|
|June 23rd – June 27||3 days of remembrance for the storming of the Moncada barracks|
|30th July||Revolution Martyrs Day|
|8th October||Ernesto “Che” Guevara dies|
|October 10||Anniversary of the start of the independence struggle in 1868|
|28th of October||Commander Camilo Cienfuegos died in 1959|
|November 27||Day of the Student Martyrs|
|2. December||Landing of the Granma|
|December 7||Antonio Maceo dies|
Source: Countryaah – Cuba Holidays
|February||Jazz festival in Havana|
|June||Cucalumba festival in Las Tunas|
|July||Carnival in Santiago de Cuba|
|November||Ballet Festival in Havana|
|November||Music festival in Varadero|
|November December||International film festival in Havana|
|December||Choir Festival in Santiago de Cuba|
|December||Parrandas Festival in Remedios|
|at different times||Zafra Festival, the sugar cane harvest festival|
|December-April||High season baseball/La serie selectiva|
|July August||National boxing tournaments/”Córdoba Cordín” in different provinces|
|July August||Basketball champions league|
|September||International Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament|
|November||International Wahoo Fishing Tournament”Campeonato international Hemingway”|
The climate in Cuba is tropical. There is a drier season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October. The humidity is very high. During the summer from May to October a humidity of 90-95% must be expected and the temperatures are also very high. In winter (November-March) the humidity is much lower and the temperatures are around 25 °Celcius.
The ideas of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depend on a number of factors. Pure cultural travelers certainly see the climate differently than people who want to spend a pure beach holiday, for example. The state of health or age can also play an important role. People who like to enjoy a lot of sun and who do not have any problems with higher temperatures can visit the island all year round. However, people who prefer a moderate climate and lower temperatures should better visit Cuba during the winter months from October to March.
Under the colonial power of Spain, many thousands of Africans came to Cuba deported and forced into slavery. The largest proportion of the slaves were Niger and Yoruba Africans. They brought their own animistic religion to Cuba from their homeland. However, their good and bad spirits did not fit into the religion preferred by the white gentlemen, so their beliefs were forbidden. In order not to be unfaithful to their gods, they found an equivalent for their own gods in the Catholic saints. For example, the god Obbatalá, an androgynous god of peace and the creator of the world, hid behind the holy Vírgen de las Mercedes, the god Changó, the god of lightning and thunder, love and masculinity lives in the Vírgen de Santa Bárbara and the goddess Ochun, the goddess of gold, love and sexuality found their counterpart in the Vírgen de la Caridad del Cobre. Later, when the “intermingling” could not be stopped, the church also tacitly tolerated offerings by the Santerías in the church.
Due to the orally handed down tradition, there are no fixed religious rules, but more groups of believers who follow common rules. The main directions of the Santería are the Regla Ocha, the Regla Conga, and the secret society Abakuá. By their side there are also the Voudou, the Regla Arará and the Gangá Longobá.
Sightseeing in Cuba
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that CU stands for the nation of Cuba as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Old town and fortifications of Havana
The Spaniards reached Cuba in 1515 and founded the city of Havana, which was to become and became a trading metropolis between Europe and America. The fortress in the city center bears witness to the former splendor. The architectural styles of the old town still offer a colorful mess, you can recognize Indian, African and Spanish cultural influences. The old town and fortifications of Havana were inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1982.
City of Trinidad and sugar factories in the Valle de los Ingenios
The city of Trinidad is located on the south coast of the country. It was founded in 1514 when it was assumed that gold could be found in the rivers. But this hope was dashed. The city became rich through the cultivation of sugar beets and many landowners participated in the slave trade. Magnificent palaces in Spanish-Moorish Mudejar architecture were built. To the east of Trinidad are the sugar mills in the Valle de los Ingenios. In the Valley of the Sugar Mills, over a million slaves had to work in the fields and factories by the end of the 19th century, when slavery was banned.
The city of Trinidad and the sugar factories were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.
San Pedro de la Roca Castle in Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba, is located in the southeast in the Oriente province. In 1590 the construction of the castle Castillo San Pedro de la Roca, which is only called “El Morro”, began. The city is multicultural, because an Indian, African and European population live here peacefully. The country’s freedom movements started from here. In this city, on the night of January 2, 1959, Fidel Castro proclaimed the victory of the revolution from the balcony of the town hall. San Pedro de la Roca Castle in Santiago de Cuba was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.
National Park Desembarco del Granma
The Desembarco del Granma National Park is located in the southeast of the country in the province of Granma, its area is about 355 km². A part of the park is marine (in the water) with an area of 62 km² and it includes the terrace system of Cabo Cruz. In 1959 Fidel Castro landed here with his revolutionaries. The yacht Fidel Castros was called Granma and so the name of the national park recalls this event. The Desembarco del Granma National Park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. Viñales Valley Cultural Landscape
The Valle de Viñales is located in the west of the country in the Sierra de los Órganos. The valley is about 10 km long and 4 km wide, but the surrounding mountains are also part of the protected park. The limestone cliffs give the area its fascination and beauty. Huge caves were created in the rock by underground rivers. Some of the caves have collapsed and the so-called Mogotes, cone-like rocks, with a height of up to 400 m emerged. Due to the porous subsoil there are endemic plants on the limestone rock walls (only found here), there are around 20 different species, such as B. the Cuban cycad. But endemic animals are also native here, such as the tree rat. The caves Cueva del Indio, Cueva de San Miguel and Caverna de Santo Tomás are unique in their shape. In the valley lived the artist Leovigildo González Morillo, who created the Mural de la Prehistoria, a colorful work of art 120 m high and 180 m wide. Leovigildo González Morillo was a student of the artist and friend of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo – Diego Rivera.
The Viñales Valley cultural landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. Archaeological landscape of the first coffee plantations in southeast Cuba In the 19th century, the primeval forest in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra (an impassable mountain range) was cleared and coffee plantations were created. This cultivation created a unique cultural landscape. This Archaeological Landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. Alexander von Humboldt National Park
The park was named after Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist who visited the island in 1800 and 1801. The Alexander von Humboldt National Park is located in the east of the country in the provinces of Holguín and Guantánamo. The park has an area of 710 km², 22 km² of which are marine, i.e. located in the sea. It has great differences in altitude, different landscapes and numerous plant and animal species. It is also home to some endemic (only living here) animals, such as the Monte Iberia frog. The frog is the smallest amphibian and at the same time the smallest land vertebrate. The park consists of mangrove forests, rainforests, offshore reefs and mountain peaks such as the 1,168 m high “El Toldo”.
Historic city center of Cienfuegos
The city of Cienfuegos is located on the Bahía de Cienfuegos in the south of the country, about 250 km southeast of Havana. The historical French influence from the 19th century is still visible in the city today. The French who settled here erected a triumphal arch in the city’s central square – probably out of homesickness. In 1745 the fort “Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua” was completed to protect against pirates. The Parque José Martí is one of the city’s attractions. But above all there are numerous beautifully restored colonial buildings to visit. The historic city center of Cienfuegos was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005.
Historic center of Camagüey
The city was founded in 1514 on the north coast near the natural port of Nuevitas, but it was relocated inland twice in 1528 due to frequent pirate raids.
It is located south-east about 500 km from Havana and has an area of about 0.6 km². The city structure from the 16th century has been preserved. It’s a motley maze of alleys, squares and blocks. In the inner courtyards of the houses there are large, bulbous clay jugs according to old tradition. The city center of Camagüey shows not only stylistic epochs of European art, such as neoclassism or art deco, but also the art of anti-colonial liberation movements.
The historic center of Camagüey was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008.
The building based on the American Capitol was completed in 1929 by 2,000 workers. Before the revolution, it housed the seat of the Senate and the House of Representatives; today it houses the Academy of Sciences founded in 1860. The twelve meter high bronze sculpture “La Républica” is housed under the 90 m high dome.
Cristo de La Habana (Christ of Havana)
The 17 m high statue of Christ was erected on a hill in the fishing village of Casablanca at the end of 1958. The commission for this work came from the wife of the then dictator Batista. An assassination attempt was carried out on him in early 1958 and when the news was brought to his wife, she prayed to God and promised him the tallest statue of Christ in the world, should her husband survive the attack unscathed. This survived and the order went to the Cuban sculptor Jilma Madera. The statue is not the largest in the world, but it is the largest statue of Christ made by a female sculptress.
Edificio FOCSA (FOCSA building)/Havana
The FOCSA building is the largest building in Cuba and was built in 1950. At first it was a fine address, after the revolution Soviet experts and consultants moved in. Today it is unfortunately quite shabby, but houses a good restaurant on the top floor with Creole cuisine and a spectacular view over Havana and the sea.
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the hotel was soon run down due to mismanagement, in 1955 it was partially bought up by Meyer-Lanski and converted into a casino. The high society of the USA and Cuba gathered here and gambled away millions. Today it is one of the most beautiful hotels in Cuba, all major public figures stayed and still stay at the Nacional, including Winston Churchill and Prince Charles. From the spacious garden with a cafe under the colonnades you have a beautiful view of the sea.
Bodguita del Medio/Havana
Empedrado No. 207, Habana Vieja
“My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita” once said Hemingways about his two favorite bars. Overrun by tourists today, it would probably bypass this place. The walls are decorated all over with inscriptions, Hemingway showed it, others did it. The mojito is expensive and not much better than other bars.
El Floridita- Cuna del Daiquiri/Havanna
Obispo, corner of Monserrat, Habana Vieja
Hemingway’s favorite bar for his dairquiris; Today it is noble and civil, the Daquiri costs overpriced 6 CUC and is probably not as good as it was in the old days. El Floridita only makes the life-size bronze statue of Hemingway an attraction, which sits at its regular place on the left corner of the bar.
Palacio del los Capitanes Generales/Havana
The Palacio is one of the most beautiful baroque buildings in Havana from the 18th century. First the building served as the residence of the Spanish captains general, then it was the presidential palace and in 1917 it became the town hall. The marble portal with its Corinthian columns was made by an Italian sculptor and the inner courtyard with its arcades and balconies is a typical example of baroque architecture. The pavement in front of the house is not made of stone, but of wood, so that the rattle of the carriage wheels did not disturb the siesta of the residents at the time.
Palacio Guasch/Pinar del Río
Dr. In 1914, Guasch commissioned the building of the house with the condition that all architectural styles be united there. This was probably the most bizarre building in Cuba – the symbol of ecleticism.
Puente Río Yayabo/Bridge on the Yayabo River/Sanctí Spíritus
The five- arch stone bridge was built at the beginning of the 19th century and it is the only colonial stone bridge that still exists in Cuba.
Fábrica de Ron Caney y Vicinity/Santiago de Cuba
The factory, which was built by the Barcadí family in 1868, is the oldest rum factory in Cuba. It was nationalized in 1959 and now produces rum brands such as Caney and Ron Matusalem. The warehouse has 42,000 barrels, some of which were bottled 15 years ago.
Castillo el Morro/Santiago de Cuba
The fortress was rebuilt in 1664 after an attack by the English pirate Henry Morgen. It is located at the beginning of the bay of Santiago de Cuba on a high rock, from there you have a fantastic view of the Caribbean Sea and the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. Today you can still see the inclined elevator that was used to transport the gunpowder from the cellar store to the guns and a large number of cannons.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza (La Fuerza)/Havana
The fortress is one of the oldest fortifications in all of Latin America. It was built between 1558 and 1577. La Fuerza was supposed to protect the access to the port of Havana, and since the fortress was first considered safe, it served as the seat of the Spanish governor, later it became barracks and archive. Today it houses a weapons museum behind its six meter thick walls and also offers space for exhibitions of modern artists. On one of the towers is La Giradilla, a two-meter-high bronze figure, Havana’s symbol. Legend has it that the one on top of this tower, Dona Isabel de Bobadilla, the wife of Governor Hernando de Soto, looked out to sea every day to look for the ships of her husband, who had spent years looking for money in North America was. When the news of her husband’s death reached her, she is said to have died of grief. The original is now in the city museum in the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, a copy can be seen on the fortress.
Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro (El Morro Fortress)/ Havana
This fortress dominates the port and is one of the landmarks of the city. Its construction began in 1589 and was completed in 1630. Towers and beacons were added in the following centuries. The building has been extensively restored and can be visited.
Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana/Havana
Built from 1763-1774 under the direction of Pedro de Medina, this fortress became the largest Spanish Ford in the New World. It was named in honor of King Charles III. Today the building is used for military purposes; the Ministry for the Navy is located here.
Selected cultural assets
Monumento Che Guevara In
1997 the last burial site of the native Argentine Che Guevara was built in honor. The mausoleum is located in Santa Clara.
The front is decorated with a huge bronze sculpture of the Cuban national hero, at the back his bones are buried in a mausoleum.
The world’s largest nightclub has existed in Havana since 1931. The Tropicana has a very special charisma that is probably unique.
The original planting of the then founder still exists. Over 200 dancers are under contract here, all famous Cuban musicians have performed here.
Museo de la Revolucion
This museum in Havana shows the history of the revolution under Fidel Castro and his colleagues in Cuba with numerous artifacts.
Museo de Ron
This museum in Havana shows the history and production of Cuban rum.
Museo de San Salvador de la Punta/Havana
This museum is housed in the castle of San Salvador de la Punta, which is also worth seeing.
This natural history museum is located in Holguín and displays numerous artifacts.
Opera and theater
Governor General Tacón had this magnificent building built in Havana in 1838 with lavish decoration and crowned by turrets. In 1915 it was restored and the facade was built in the neo-baroque style. The Cuban National Ballet and the Conjubta Nacional de Opera are based here. The theater has 2,000 seats, making it one of the largest theaters in Latin America. Many famous actors, conductors and actors have performed here, including the actress Sarah Bernhardt, the conductors Tulio Serafin and Erich Kleiber and the tenors Enrico Caruso and Benjamino Gigli.
Teatro Eddy Suñol/Holguín
Theatro José Jacinto Milanes/Pinar del Río
Churches and cemeteries
Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre
Due to an apparition of Mary in the 17th century, a church was built on this site in El Cobre, which was converted into a large basilica in 1927, the only one in Cuba.
The name of the patron saint of Cuba comes from the geographical location, right next door is Cuba’s largest iron ore deposit (including copper).
Every year on September 8 there is a pilgrimage to the Nuestra Señoralde la Caridad.
Catedral de La Habana
Plaza de la Catedral, Calle Empedradeo in the old town of Havana (Habana Vieja)
The Jesuits began to build this impressive cathedral in 1748. However, they were driven out by the then Spanish king almost 20 years later, so that the building lay fallow for ten years. Bishop Hchavarría then finally brought the building project to an end in 1777. The baroque facade is one of the most beautiful in Latin America, the rather simple interior is impressive because of the marble altar, the image of St. Christopher and the paten. Pope John Paul II read mass here when he visited Cuba in 1998, and services are still held regularly today.
Cementero Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus Cemetery)
This cemetery in Havana is one of the largest in Latin America with around 800,000 graves, some of which are very splendid. The Spanish architect Calixto de Loira designed the cemetery, which was built between 1871 and 1886. Today well-known personalities are buried here, such as the General of the War of Independence Máximo Gómez, Celia Sánchez and the world chess champion José Capablanca.
Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula/Havana
San Pedro between Leonor Pérez and San Ignazio in the old town of Havana (Habana Vieja)
This church was built in 1644 and destroyed by a hurricane almost 100 years later, the restoration work took 15 years. The chapel served as a hospital chapel for poor and homeless women. In 1946 large parts of the church were torn down and the rest could only be preserved through the protest of the residents. Today the research seminar for Cuban music has its seat here and concerts are held regularly. The remains of the famous violinist Claudio José Domingo Brindis de Salas are also located here.
Necrópolis Santa Ifigenia
This cemetery in Santiago de Cuba is in no way inferior to the one in Havana, only on a smaller site. Magnificent family graves with beautiful sculptures line up. Here, Cuba’s national poet José Martí is buried in a mausoleum, as is Manuel Céspedes, the general of the War of Independence, and the founder of the Rum dynasty, Emilio Barcadí.
Universidad de Oriente – Santiago de Cuba
The University of the East in Santiago de Cuba was founded in 1947. The university has the following faculties:
- natural Science
- Social sciences
- law Sciences
Universidad de La Habana
The University of Havana, the oldest university in Cuba, was founded in 1721. It is also one of the oldest universities in America. There are currently around 6,000 students studying at the University of Havana. The university has the following faculties:
- law Sciences
- Philosophy and history
- foreign languages
Universidad de Matanzas “Camilo Cienfuegos”
The University of Matanzas is also located in this city. The university was founded in 1972. There are currently around 15,000 students studying at the University of Matanzas. The university has the following faculties:
- Social sciences
- Computer science
Valle Vinales/Pinar del Río
This fertile valley with its red-brown earth, in which the mogotes (karst rocks) rise, is located in the west of the island. After the rain in summer, thick clouds rise from the ground and envelop the valley in a mysterious mist.
Cueva de Santo Tomás/Viñales
The Santo Tomás caves are the largest in Cuba. So far only 50 km have been explored.
Cueva de Caleta Grande/Isla de Juventud
In the two caves you can see well-preserved rock drawings that date from the time of the Taínos, the natives of Cuba. The Cueva de Punta del Este is covered with around 200 drawings and is considered the “Sistine Chapel” among cave paintings.
Jardín Botánico de la Soledad/Botanical Garden/Cienfuegos
This botanical garden is one of the most important in Latin America. On an area of 94 hectares you can see up to 2000 species of plants, including 89 species of rubber trees, 23 different species of bamboo and 400 species of cactus.
Valle de los Ingenios/Trinidad
In the lush green valley there were once 59 sugar mills, today there are only two haciendas (Iznaga and Guachinango) that you can visit to get an idea of the wealth of that time.
Santo Domingo National Park/Sierra Maestra- Bayamo
The national park is in the middle of the Sierra Maestra with beautiful rainforests that hide enchanted paths. Fidel Castro used to have his headquarters here with his rebels, which you can still visit today. You can also climb Cuba’s highest mountain, Pico Turquino at 1972 m.
Baconao/Santiago de Cuba National
Park The entire park has been recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, so that the entire species-rich tree population is under nature protection. In spring, thousands of crabs from the mountains come to the coast to lay their eggs. In May the countless little blue crabs move to the sea. In the Valle Préhistórico there is a life-size, lifelike dinosaur cast out of concrete for Jurassic Park friends.
Archipelago de Camagüey
This fascinating island world with around 400 islets extends north of the provinces of Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila. This natural paradise with its rich flora and fauna is shared by 200 different species of birds with iguanas, 20 species of marine mammals, crustaceans, pelicans, flamingos and the white heron.
Jardines de la Reina/Gardens of the Queen
The cayos on the south coast of the provinces of Ciego de Ávila and Camgüey have been declared a national park. Commercial fishing is prohibited here, which means that a rich underwater fauna has been preserved. The coral reef on the edge of the island chain is one of the largest in the world and there are even tame sharks here.
National Park “Alejandro Humboldt”
The national park in eastern Cuba includes the four easternmost provinces of Holguín, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo. The area protects many important ecosystems on land (68,890 ha) and on water (2,250 ha), such as the coast with its mangroves and offshore coral reefs, the coastal dry forests and the higher rainforests with high rainfall with the 1,168 meter high summit of “El Toldo” “. The national park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2001.