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Santa Clara, Cuba

Santa Clara, Cuba

Overview


Santa Clara is the capital city of the Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

n province of Villa Clara
Villa Clara Province
Villa Clara is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is located in the central region of the island bordering with the Atlantic at north, Matanzas Province by west, Sancti Spiritus by east, and Cienfuegos on the South. Villa Clara shares with Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus on the south the Escambray...

. It is located in the most central region of the province and almost in the most central region of the country.


Santa Clara was founded by 175 people on July 15th, 1689. One hundred and thirty-eight of them were represented by two large families already living in the area and, therefore, owners of the land next to the new city.
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Santa Clara is the capital city of the Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

n province of Villa Clara
Villa Clara Province
Villa Clara is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is located in the central region of the island bordering with the Atlantic at north, Matanzas Province by west, Sancti Spiritus by east, and Cienfuegos on the South. Villa Clara shares with Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus on the south the Escambray...

. It is located in the most central region of the province and almost in the most central region of the country.

History



Santa Clara was founded by 175 people on July 15th, 1689. One hundred and thirty-eight of them were represented by two large families already living in the area and, therefore, owners of the land next to the new city. The other 37 came from 7 other families, a priest and a governor, all of them originating in the coastal city of “San Juan de los Remedios”. The population of Remedios
Remedios, Cuba
Remedios is a city and municipality located from the northern coast of Cuba, in the center of the island. It is part of the province of Villa Clara. It was declared a City by Isabel the Second, Queen of Spain, when the Island was still a colony...

 was torn between the option of leaving their city, constantly besieged by pirate attacks, or staying in place. While most of them finally decided to stay, these 37 persons traveled south and, on June 1, 1689 they arrive to the hill where they rejoined the other two existing families. A mass was given under a Tamarind
Tamarind
Tamarind is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic .-Origin:...

 tree and the city was born. Since then, the place under the tree is known as “Loma Del Carmen” (Carmen’s Hill). A second generation church exists in a beautiful park along the place with a monument commemorating the event surrounded by a fourth generation Tamarind tree.

At its beginnings, the settlement was called Cayo Nuevo, then Dos Cayos, Villa Nueva de Santa Clara, Pueblo Nuevo de Antón Díaz, Villa Clara and finally Santa Clara.

Construction of the city began not far from Carmen’s Hill. Following the Spanish standards, a perfect squared layout with a central plaza (Plaza Mayor today Parque Vidal) was developed. The first buildings erected were the Cabildo (City Council) and a modest palm tree church. This building was enhanced in 1725 to a brick one, and stayed the center of the Parque Vidal until August 22, 1923 when it was torn down in order to expand the plaza and build a new church close by. Back then, and still nowadays, this decision, taken by the mayor, was highly criticized. The building, while not a gem of architecture, was not entirely unpleasant to the eye and certainly an example of the older colonial structure in the city. Resulting from this expropriation by the City Council, a complaint was raised by religious figures and a total of 77 850.00 pesos were paid in fines to the Church, a considerable sum that would represent millions of pesos today.

Soon after the foundation, a theater, a chamber of commerce, meeting clubs, public libraries and dance halls were erected as well. The position of the city, almost in the very center of the country, made it as a perfect halt and a great communication link, east-west and north-south, creating a slow but unstoppable growth. By the 19th century, Santa Clara was bigger and more populated than the rest of the towns around, including what was once Remedios. As a necessary stop between Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 and the east of the country, the city gained the title of Las Villas province capital.

Marta Abreu de Estévez
Marta Abreu
Marta Abreu de Estévez was one of the most influential figures of her time in central Cuba, especially in her birth city and province of Santa Clara...


Presently, there are two well-known figures associated with Santa Clara: Marta Abreu de Estévez
Marta Abreu
Marta Abreu de Estévez was one of the most influential figures of her time in central Cuba, especially in her birth city and province of Santa Clara...

, a beloved native daughter known as "the Benefactress of the City" and Ernesto Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, where he is buried, for having waged there the final battle of the revolution that toppled the Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

 government in 1958.

Marta Abreu's acclaim is due to the numerous projects she and her family promoted through their monetary donations intended to enhance the life of all citizens of Santa Clara. Marta Abreu and her husband Luis Estévez, who became the first Vice President of the young republic in 1902, were well-known sympathizers and contributors to the Cuban rebels cause during the War of Cuban Independence against Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (known in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 as the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

).

Marta's legacy can be seen all over the city: an electric plant building, several schools, an asylum, public laundry stations by the Belico river (two of them still exist, unfortunately in poor conditions), the fire station that can be seen just a block off the Parque Vidal, the train station near Carmen's Hill, but first and foremost the "La Caridad" (Charity) Theater
Teatro La Caridad
Teatro de La Caridad or Teatro La Caridad in Santa Clara is one of the few remaining colonial theatres in Cuba. It is a National Monument of Cuba....

. The theater can be admired in one of the corners of the Parque Vidal in the center of the city. Marta was the project's sole financial sponsor. She personally supervised its design and construction. Although the building is not as grandiose as Terrier Theater in Cienfuegos City, the concept behind its founding makes it most worthy: the proceeds of the theater were destined for the support of the two schools Marta founded for poor children of the city. The schools, one for girls and one for boys, were located just behind the theater. La Caridad Theater is one of the seven Big Theaters from the colonial era still standing. It offers an exquisite architecture and amazing interior. Marta finally donated her own palace to the city; it was used as a Provincial Government Palace and transformed into a Public Library afterwards. Today, it houses the "Biblioteca Marti" (Marti Library), also located on the Parque Vidal, and represents a beautiful example of Neo Classical architecture with finely decorated interiors. Santa Clara's University is named after her. Marta is buried in the Colón cemetery of Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

.

Battle of Santa Clara




Santa Clara was the site of the last battle in the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

 in late 1958. There were two guerrilla columns that attacked the city, one led by Ernesto Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

 and the other led by Camilo Cienfuegos
Camilo Cienfuegos
Camilo Cienfuegos Gorriarán was a Cuban revolutionary born in Lawton, Havana. Raised in an anarchist family that had left Spain before the Spanish Civil War, he became a key figure of the Cuban Revolution, along with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Juan Almeida Bosque, and Raúl Castro.-Political...

. Guevara's column first captured the garrison at Fomento. Then, using a bulldozer, Guevara's soldiers destroyed railroad tracks and derailed a train full of troops and supplies sent by Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

. At the same time, Cienfuegos's column defeated an army garrison at the Battle of Yaguajay
Battle of Yaguajay
The Battle of Yaguajay was a decisive victory for the Cuban Revolutionaries over the soldiers of the Batista government near the city of Santa Clara in Cuba during the Cuban Revolution.-Background:...

 not far from town. On December 31, 1958, the combined forces of Guevara and Cienfuegos (along with other revolutionaries under William Alexander Morgan
William Alexander Morgan
William Alexander Morgan was a United States citizen who fought in the Cuban Revolution. He was one of only two foreign nationals to hold the rank of Comandante in the revolutionary forces....

) attacked Santa Clara. The battle was chaotic, the defenders were demoralized, some fought, others surrendered without a shot. By the afternoon, the city was captured. This victory for Castro's troops is seen as the decisive moment in the Cuban Revolution as Batista fled Cuba less than 12 hours later.

Demographics



In 2004, the municipality of Santa Clara had a population of 237,581. With a total area of 514 km² (198.5 sq mi), it has a population density of 462.2 /km2.

The municipality is divided into the barrio
Barrio
Barrio is a Spanish word meaning district or neighborhood.-Usage:In its formal usage in English, barrios are generally considered cohesive places, sharing, for example, a church and traditions such as feast days...

s of Báez, Carmen, Egidos, Hoyo, Loma Cruz, Manajanabo, Manicaragua, Mata, Parroquia, Pastora, Provincial, Puente, Quemado Hilario, Raúl Sancho, San Gil and Seibabo..

Attractions


In Santa Clara's center is a park (Parque Vidal
Parque Vidal
Parque Vidal is a park located in the center of Santa Clara Cuba that covers an entire square block. In the middle of it, the Glorieta erected in 1911 still serves for public concerts...

) and it is laid on an entire square block. In the park there is a statue of Marta Abreu
Marta Abreu
Marta Abreu de Estévez was one of the most influential figures of her time in central Cuba, especially in her birth city and province of Santa Clara...

, a person much loved by the people of Santa Clara. Bordering the park is the Santa Clara Libre (formerly the Santa Clara Hilton), "Gran Hotel", Teatro de La Caridad (a National Monument of Cuba.), the Plaza del Mercado Central, the former City Hall and the Colonia Española de Santa Clara center of dance, offers the most attractive and unique traditional customs of hinterland Cuba.

Parque Vidal is probably one of the most typical places in Cuba. During the afternoons, people (specially singles) visit the park to meet others. Although not widely practiced in recent times, the custom was to walk the park around and around. The women walk the inner part of the park, while the men walk the outer side. Another lost custom was for the locals to set up a platform and offer improvisations with their guitars on late Sunday afternoons. For that day they dressed with their Guayaberas and highly polished shoes.

Santa Clara is home to a mausoleum
Mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

 which houses the remains of Che Guevara and sixteen of his fellow combatants killed in 1967 during the Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 campaign. There is also a reconstruction of Guevara derailing the train during the Battle of Santa Clara.

Prior to 1 January 1977, Santa Clara was located in Las Villas Province. On that date, as part of a general administrating reordering of Cuba's provinces, Las Villas province was reordered into the provinces of Villa Clara
Villa Clara Province
Villa Clara is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is located in the central region of the island bordering with the Atlantic at north, Matanzas Province by west, Sancti Spiritus by east, and Cienfuegos on the South. Villa Clara shares with Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus on the south the Escambray...

, Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos Province
Cienfuegos is one of the provinces of Cuba. The capital city of the province is also called Cienfuegos and was founded by French settlers in 1819....

, and Sancti Spíritus
Sancti Spíritus Province
Sancti Spíritus is one of the provinces of Cuba. Its capital is the identically named Sancti Spíritus. Another major city is Trinidad.The southern coast of the province is flat, but the western portion of Sancti Spíritus province is mountainous. The southeast has numerous mangroves and swamps...

. Santa Clara is in the province now known as Villa Clara.

Other local landmarks include:
  • Parque del Carmen
    Parque del Carmen
    Parque del Carmen is a park in Santa Clara, Cuba which honors the city's founding.This old plaza is host to a small park centered by Saint Carmen’s Church, a colonial building which originally also included the city's first school. In front of it, there is a gray marble monument surrounding a...

     (Carmen's Park)– City's Foundation Site.
  • Parque de los Martires
    Parque de los Mártires
    Parque de los Mártires is the name of a park in Santa Clara, Cuba, it is located only a few blocks from Parque del Carmen. It is a triangular shaped area with many points of interests. Its center piece is a truncated column, the only one in rural Cuba in honor of those fighters who lost their...

     (Martyrs Park).
  • Parque de la Pastora (Our Lady Shepherdess Park).
  • Parque de la Justicia (Justice’s Park).
  • Parque del Tren blindado (The Armored Train Park-Museum), a National Monument of Cuba.
  • Mausoleo Che Guevara
    Mausoleo Che Guevara
    The Che Guevara Mausoleum is a memorial in Santa Clara, Cuba. It houses the remains of executed Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara and twenty-nine of his fellow combatants killed in 1967 during Guevara's attempt to spur an armed uprising in Bolivia...

     (Monument and Mausoleum of Ernesto "Che" Guevara).
  • Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis
    Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis
    Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis is a cathedral in Santa Clara, Cuba.It is the most important religious building in the city. The much argued-about church was built in 1923 after the pull down of the original one in Parque Vidal...

     (Saint Claire of Asis Cathedral).
  • Boulevard 1889.
  • Centro Cultural El Mejunje (Cultural Centre "El Mejunje").
  • Loma del Capiro
    Loma del Capiro
    Loma del Capiro is a group of three small peaks located in the city of Santa Clara, Cuba.The elevation gained local and worldwide historic significance after Che Guevara used it as hideout and command center to invade the city in a battle known as Battle of Santa Clara during the Cuban Revolution...

    , hill overlooking the city
  • University "Marta Abreu" of Las Villas is the province's secondary education institution.

Education


Santa Clara is home to the University "Marta Abreu" of Las Villas , composed of a conglomerate of faculties:
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Law
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • Construction
  • Managerial Sciences
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • Distance Education

Offering Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees and boasting the graduation of 35000 engineers, licensees, architects, medics, and veterinarians, of which 1000 have been foreigners from 47 countries. Additionally, it has formed more than 310 doctors and more than 1600 magisters. In addition it collaborates with institutions from Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Spain, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela.

Notable people

  • Rubén González, pianist.
  • Mirka Francia
    Mirka Francia
    Mirka Francia Vasconcelos is a Cuban-Italian volleyball player who has won two Olympic gold medals with the Cuba women's national volleyball team...

    , Cuban-Italian volleyball player.
  • José Bernal
    José Bernal
    José Bernal was a Cuban-American artist. He was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, in the former province of Las Villas and became a naturalized U.S.A. citizen in 1980....

    , artist.
  • Moraima Secada
    Moraima Secada
    Moraima Secada Moraima Secada Moraima Secada (born María Micaela Secada Ramos (Santa Clara, Cuba, 30 September 1930 – Havana, 30 December 1984), known to her admirers as La Mora (the moor), was a temperamental singer who created a special style of interpretation within the Cuban music genre...

    , singer.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt
    Yuniesky Betancourt
    Yuniesky Betancourt is a Major League Baseball shortstop. He resides in Boca Raton, Florida.-Cuban leagues:...

    , MLB Baseball Player
  • Benny 'Kid' Paret, Boxer, famously died after falling into a coma during a fight with Emile Griffith
    Emile Griffith
    Emile Alphonse Griffith is a former boxer who was the first fighter from the U.S. Virgin Islands ever to become a world champion. He is perhaps best known for his controversial third fight with Benny Paret in 1962 for the welterweight world championship...


Sister cities

Cali
Calì
Calì, also written in English as Cali, is an Italian surname, widespread mainly in the Ionian side of Sicily.For the surname Calì is assumed the origin of the Greek word kalos , or from its Sanskrit root kali, "time."The surname refers to:...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 (1994) Oviedo, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (1995) Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of Monroe County in the southern region of the U.S. state of Indiana. The population was 80,405 at the 2010 census....

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (1999) Cheboksary
Cheboksary
-Twin towns/sister cities:Cheboksary is twinned with: Eger in Hungary Antalya in Turkey Santa Clara in CubaAlso Partnerships are shown with: Rundu in Namibia -External links:****...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

(2004)

External links