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Santa Clara – Significant History Meets Impressive Art Scene
A city of trends, creativity, and revolution – then and now. Santa Clara became famous and historic in December '58, when Che Guevara won the most important battle in the Civil War here, heralding the end of the Batista regime. Monuments are scattered all over the city; it doesn't get more historical and significant anywhere in Cuba.
Today, Santa Clara is one of the most vibrant and revolutionary cities. There is a large active artistic scene here, a graphic artists' collective that produces satirical political cartoons, and all of them have been testing the limits of the Cuban censorship police for years. Education in the classical sense is also not neglected; the Universidad Central Marta Abreu is one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
Trends are born in Santa Clara. No wonder, Cuba's first homosexual nightclub opened here, Cuba's only official drag show exists here, and the country's best rock festival is held here every year: Ciudad Metal. Santa Clara exudes history, revolution, passion, modernity, and color – an incomparable charm that you must experience for yourself.
Top Things to Do
There is so much to see and experience in Santa Clara – madness. Since descriptions are unfortunately only in Spanish, we recommend booking a city tour. This way you can ask your guide everything and get a look behind the scenes – perfect in this creatively fascinating city.
1 - Museo Y Monumento Memorial Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara
In the center is the colossal bronze statue of Che, in full combat uniform, with his arm plastered. He broke his arm during the decisive battle in Santa Clara. The engraved quotes from his farewell letter explain why he left for Bolivia for another revolution, later imprisoned and murdered. The museum displays some of his personal belongings, and his remains have been in the mausoleum since 1997. So are those of 38 of his comrades in arms, including Tamara Bunkes; she was the only woman who joined his struggle in Bolivia.
2 - Monumento Al Tren Blindado (Train-Monument)
It was on this very spot that history was made on December 29, 1958. When Che Guevara and his group captured an armored train. It is said that the train derailed as Che bulldozed 30 meters of railroad track, and it is this same train that can be seen on its own pedestal at the entrance. Opening hours are Tue – Sat 8:30 am – 5 pm + Sun: 9 am – 1 pm. The entrance fee is around 3 USD.
3 - Statue Che Con Niño
This life-size bronze statue shows Che Guevara with a little boy on his left arm. At numerous places, you will find small symbols representing his life, work, idiosyncrasies, and goals.
4 - Teatro La Caridad (Parque Vidal)
It is one of the few remaining colonial theaters in Cuba and is a national monument of Cuba. Built-in 1885 and financed entirely by Marta Abreu de Estevez.
5 - Leoncio Vidal Park (Parque Vidal)
Leoncio Vidal Park is located in the middle of the city and is a popular place. You can also find the famous statue El Niño de La Bota (The Boy with the Boot) and the statue of the local philanthropist Marta Abreu.
Arrival By Plane
You can reach Santa Clara by plane. There are both national and international flights to the airport. From there you can get to the city by cab.
Arrival By Bus
You can arrive safely in Santa Clara by Viazul bus. The bus does not stop in the city center. If you have booked a Casa in advance, ask them to pick you up (for a fee) or take a cab – there are always some at the bus station. But as always, make sure you know the price beforehand.
How To Get Around
You can easily reach everything on foot within the city center, or you can take a bici-taxi or a carriage, they are everywhere.
Where to Stay
There are excellent hotels in Santa Clara. We recommend staying in a typical Cuban Casa Particulares in Santa Clara. You should not miss the insider tips and stories of the owners.
Where to Eat
The choice of restaurants is very good in Santa Clara. We chose traditional restaurants. Also, always ask for the latest tips in your Casa.
Restaurants we tried and liked
Our Recommendations for $ - $$
Our Recommendations for $$ - $$$
Our Insider Tips
1 - Loma Del Capiro
A viewpoint with a 360-degree view of Santa Clara. Not a strenuous walk, but it can get hot, so best to bring water and sunscreen. Che Guevara used the hilltop as a hiding place during the Battle of Santa Clara, so there is a small monument at the top of Loma del Capiro commemorating the battle.
2 - El Mejunje
An icon of the city and the LGBT center. Created by bohemians and intellectuals, it grew into a diverse and unconventional cultural space. It houses various artworks by Cuban political artists and gives a place for many local events. Once a year, the Cuban Pride Parade takes place here.
3 - Bar La Marquesina
In the corner of the La Caridad theater. Perfect for enjoying a coffee or a few drinks overlooking the main square.
4 - Nightclub Boulevard
A small club with a variety of shows, bands, and karaoke contests. Popular with the locals. Admission is about 4 USD.
5 - Casa De La Ciudad
Cultural center for local artists. Whether art exhibitions, traditional Cuban dance evenings, or music concerts in the courtyard. Workshops are also held regularly.
6 - Catedral De Santa Clara De Asís
It was the center of controversy in 1923, as it was actually built to replace the original church in the center of Parque Vidal. The cathedral has beautiful stained-glass windows and a mystical statue of the Virgin Mary. It disappeared without a trace shortly after its inauguration; decades later, it was found again in a ditch.