(Update October 2018)
On the way from Santa Clara to the beaches of Isla Santa Lucia, a stopover at Camagüey came handy; and going by Viazul, it was inevitable, anyway.
|Plaze del Carmen and Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen|
Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have visited – I had already so many idyllic midsized cities on my list – and missed out on a really pleasant place. Whereby – one day also was enough.
Camagüey has over 320,000 inhabitants which makes it actually Cuba’s third largest city. Here, the main square is called after Ignacio Agramonte y Loynáz, a revolutionary in the Ten Years’ War from 1868 to 1878 when Cuba was seeking independence from the Spanish. He was born in what today is Camagüey and his native house can be visited.
|A central meeting point of Camagüey: Parque Ignacio Agramonte|
On the southern side of the square is the Iglesia Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria and on the west side yet another Casa de la Trova, here named after Patricio Ballagas which makes sense since not only was he born in Camagüey, this composer and guitarist also had an important impact on the trova music.
My favorite side is the northern one since there is the Maqueta de la Ciudad de Camagüey, i. e. the city en miniature, and next to it the Café Cuidad, one of the nicest cafés I’ve been to in Cuba. You get excellent coffee in a pretty worldly ambiance – and you get internet access, provided you have your scratch-card.
|Plaza San Juan de Dios with lots of stalls with handicrafts and souvenirs during the day, lots of good food at night; and the church San Juan de Dios to the right.|
To get a bit of a Mexican feel, just walk down two blocks south from the Parque and you’ll get to the Plaza San Juan de Dios. Here you get to see one of the most exquisite ensembles of well-preserved colonial architecture from the 18the century.
Another famous and very alluring square is the Plaza del Carmen, whereby not only the plaza itself deserves your attention but also the calle Marín Varona leading there: There are beautiful structures, lots of small bars, shops, and galleries – all lovingly decorated with lanterns and flowers.
|Martha Jimenez’ neighbors are life-size and sculpted after real Camagüeyans.|
The plaza’s strongest suit and a real tourist magnet are the local people you meet here. They seem a bit stiff? Well, that’s because they were cast from bronze by artist Martha Jimenez Perez, originally from Holguín, but living and working in Camagüey. At house number 282 you can visit her studio and store – and maybe you are lucky and run into Ms Martha herself.
As a globetrotter, I thought it might be a good idea to visit the church Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje – which might ensure a happy progression of my coming trips. And what can I say, so far, it’s working like a charm. Good thing is, that the adjacent cemetery is pretty well maintained and with the artistic gravestones a bit of an outdoor museum.
|Cemetery of Camagüey with the church Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje in the backdrop.|
What really amazed me after having been to Cuba for quite a while were the shopping streets and the stores in Camagüey.
|‘The Bronze Titan’ Antonio Maceo – here actually made of bronze- overlooking Camagüey’s shopping dorado.|
I do not want to assert that they are just like in capitalist countries and what is called ‘mall’ in Cuba makes us smile. But in Camagüey, the stores are not empty, there are actually goods there – sometimes even in bulks.
People shop. And you can shop, too, since they have some really nice handcraft like little leather pouches for about 1 CUC and ceramic houses for about 3 CUC and they look nice and not like tourist crap.
|Shopping street Calle Maceo.|
This map should show you all the places worth visiting and mentioned in this post:
Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Cuba?