Parque Vidal

Santa Clara

A veritable alfresco theater named for Colonel Leoncio Vidal y Caro, who was killed here on March 23, 1896, Parque Vidal was encircled by twin sidewalks during the colonial era, with a fence separating blacks and whites. Scars of more recent division are evident on the facade of mint-green Hotel Santa Clara Libre on the park's west side: it's pockmarked by bullet holes from the 1958 battle for the city between Guevara and Batista's government troops.

Today all the colors of Cuba's cultural rainbow mix in one of the nation's busiest and most vibrant urban spaces, with old men in guayabera shirts smoking cigars on the shaded benches and young kids getting pulled around in carriages led by goats. Find time to contemplate the statues of local philanthropist Marta Abreu and the emblematic El niño de la bota (Boy with a Boot), a long-standing city symbol. Since 1902 the municipal orchestra has played rousing music in the park bandstand at 8pm every Thursday and Sunday.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santa Clara attractions

1. Palacio Provincial

0.05 MILES

The eastern side of Parque Vidal is guarded by the thick columns of the neoclassical Palacio Provincial (1902), today home to the Martí library (9am to…

2. Teatro la Caridad

0.06 MILES

Many are deceived by the relatively austere neoclassical facade, but toss CUC$1 to whoever is manning the door and you'll serendipitously discover why the…

3. Museo de Artes Decorativas

0.06 MILES

Something of a sleeping beauty on Parque Vidal, this 18th-century mansion turned museum is packed with period furniture from a whole gamut of styles that…

4. Melaíto Murals

0.11 MILES

Santa Clara is peppered with comic book–style murals, the work of a local graphic artists' collective called Melaíto, which produces a monthly supplement…

8. Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen

0.35 MILES

The city's oldest church is five blocks north of Parque Vidal. It was built in 1748, with a tower added in 1846. During the War of Independence it stood…