Photos of Baracoa, Cuba’s oldest and most isolated town, Cuba

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Baracoa, Cuba’s oldest and most isolated town

Baracoa, in Guantánamo Province near the eastern tip of Cuba, is the oldest Spanish settlement and was Cuba’s first capital. It is here that Christopher Columbus landed, on his first voyage, on 27 November 1492. The name Baracoa is thought to stem from the indigenous Arauaca language word meaning “the presence of the sea”. Situated on the Bahía de Miel (Bay of Honey) and surrounded by a wide mountain range, the town is quite isolated, and reached by single mountain road built in the 1960s.

Calle Antonio Maceo, Baracoa
 
Calle Antonio Maceo, Baracoa
 
Calle Antonio Maceo, Baracoa
 
Calle Antonio Maceo, Baracoa
 
Calle Antonio Maceo, Baracoa
 
Baracoa Cathedral, Plaza Independencia
 
Altar, Baracoa Cathedral
 
Glass window, Baracoa Cathedral
 
Cruz de la Parra, Baracoa Cathedral
 
Calle Felix Ruenes, Baracoa
 
Calle Felix Ruenes, Baracoa
 
Casa de Trova, Baracoa
 
Bust of Hatuey, Baracoa
 
Bust of Hatuey, Baracoa
 
Along the Malecón, Baracoa
 
Fuerte La Punta, Baracoa
 
In La Terraza – Casa Nilson, Baracoa
 
Plaza Martí, Baracoa
 
Playa de Miel, Baracoa
 
View to the Malecón, Baracoa
 
Cross and statue of Columbus, Baracoa
 
Slogans of the CDR, Baracoa
 
View of Baracoa
 
Taíno statue, Baracoa
 
Taíno burial cave, Baracoa
 
Taíno mask, Baracoa
 
Taíno statue, Baracoa
 
Taíno display, Baracoa
 
Taíno rockpaintings, Baracoa
 
View of Baracoa
 
View of Baracoa
 
Statue of a Taíno, Baracoa
 
View to Hotel El Castillo, Baracoa
 
Steps to Hotel El Castillo, Baracoa
 
View of Baracoa
 
View of Baracoa
 
View of Baracoa
 
View of Baracoa
 
View from Hotel El Castillo, Baracoa
 
View from Hotel El Castillo, Baracoa
 
Playa Bahia Baracoa
 
Playa Bahia Baracoa
 
On Calle Calixto Garcia, Baracoa
 
View of Bahia Baracoa
 
Maceo wall display, Baracoa
 
Hotel Porto Santo pool, Baracoa
 
Replica of the 'Cruz de Parra', Baracoa
 
View from Porto Santo, Baracoa
 

The settlement was founded by the first governor of Cuba, the Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, who had set out from Hispaniola, on 15 August 1511. Before he landed, a Taíno chieftain named Hatuey had fled there from the Spanish and raised a Taíno army to fight them; he was betrayed and burned at the stake. A bust of Hatuey, “America's First Rebel”, is displayed in front of the church, which is ironic: just before he was killed a Catholic priest had tried to convert him, so he would go to Heaven. He then asked the priest if dead Spanish went there too and when told that was so, he told him that he would rather go to Hell.

The Taíno people are remembered here by another statue, overlooking the town, and in the “Cueva del Paraíso” (Cave of Paradise), an archeological museum in a series of caves on the hill above Baracoa, with displays, rock paintings and a burial site. There are three forts built by the Spanish, of which El Castillo de Seboruco, built by the Spanish in 1739 and completed by the Americans in 1900 now houses Hotel El Castillo, overlooking the city and the Bahía de Miel with, across that bay, the site of the “Cruz de Parra”, where Columbus erected a wooden cross on 1 December 1492; a replica is on that spot while the original is in the Cathedral and now decorated with gilded ornaments.