Welcome to Santiago de Cuba
Trailblazing characters and a resounding sense of historical destiny define it. Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar made Santiago his second capital, Fidel Castro used it to launch his embryonic revolution, Don Facundo Bacardí based his first-ever rum factory here, and nearly every Cuban music genre from salsa to son first emanated from these dusty, rhythmic and sensuous streets.
Caught dramatically between the indomitable Sierra Maestra and the azure Caribbean, the colonial casco histórico (historical center) retains a time-worn air reminiscent of Salvador in Brazil or forgotten New Orleans. So don't let the hustlers, the speeding Chevys or the clawing heat defeat you. There's untold magic here too.