Trinidad Day Trips
Valley of the Sugar Mills © Wilder Mendez (Lezumbalaberenjena)
Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills)This picturesque emerald valley was once the centre of the sugar trade industry in Cuba, and home to the plantations that brought wealth and prosperity to Trinidad in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak of the sugar trade there were over 70 sugar cane mills in the valley area and about 30,000 slaves working on the plantations. Today, the ruins of estates, sugar mills and other remnants are visited by tourists who are attracted by the beauty of the valley and the historical significance of the slave trade that operated during the valley's boom years. The main site is the Manaca Iznaga, a striking 144ft (44m) high tower that was used by a plantation owner, one of the wealthiest men in Cuba, Pedro Iznaga, to keep watch over his slaves working in the fields. The bells in this tower would toll to signal the end of the working day. Visitors can climb the tower for impressive views over the countryside. Along with Trinidad, the Valle de los Ingenios has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Horse riding tours to the valley, departing from Trinidad, are a popular way to see the sights and take in the beautiful surroundings.
Address: Carretera de Sancti Spiritus (8km from Trinidad)
Santa Clara © Judith Duk
Santa ClaraLocated 55 miles (88km) north of Trinidad, the city of Santa Clara is best known for its Che Memorial at the Plaza de la Revolución, and monuments relating to the Cuban Revolution. The armoured train monument (Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado) marks the spot where Che attacked the train, sending Batista's troops to Santiago de Cuba, a battle which was a decisive factor in the victory of the revolutionaries. The Ernesto Che Guevara Monument was built to pay homage to the memory of Che and his comrades who fought with him in Bolivia, and the enormous monument incorporates a huge statue of Che with his famous phrase Hasta la Victoria Siempre (Forever Onwards Towards Victory), as well as representations of many aspects of his revolutionary life. To one side of the statue, a huge stone block has been inscribed in full with his farewell letter to Fidel Castro. The monument also includes a mausoleum where the remains of Che and his comrades have been interred, and a museum with displays about his life and involvement in the revolution.
Sancti Spiritus © Judith Duk
Sancti SpiritusThe beautiful colonial city of Sancti Spiritus, with its gracious people, delightful architecture and maze of narrow, winding cobblestone streets, remains almost completely detached from the main tourist trail in Cuba. Located in the centre of the country, 43 miles (70km) east of Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus lies on the banks of the Yayabo River, exuding charm, affability and authenticity. The old town dates back to 1514 and has been declared a National Monument. It is filled with picturesque, colourful little houses with uneven red-tiled roofs and weathered colonial homes. It also boasts the much-photographed green-towered church which dates back to the early 16th century, making it the oldest church in Cuba. Streets are crammed with horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, scooters and pedestrians licking at ice-creams flavoured with a fruit which grows along the banks of the river. Spanning the river is the Puente Yayabo, an arched brick bridge built by the Spanish in 1815, and the city's most famous sight. The population of Sancti Spiritus is only about 100,000 and its rundown charm and friendly, laid-back people are part of its appeal. It is also renowned to be the home of many famous Cuban singers and musicians so it is worth seeking out some music when you visit.