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Rarely do you feel the excitement of arriving in a city where practically the entire population - children, adults, musicians, vendors - waits in their eagerness to entertain newcomers to the Cuban way, where music and dance are the genuine protagonists.
People took to the streets dressed in their best clothes to celebrate the day when the old city of Sagua la Grande, located between the Sierra de Jumagua and the sea, was presented as Cuba's new tourist destination.
The Palacio de Arenas, a great exponent of Art Noveau, converted into the Palacio de Arena hotel, in Sagua la Grande. © Manena Munar
A SPECIAL DAY TO SAGUA LA GRANDE
The Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero Cruz, master of ceremonies during the visit to Sagua la Grande, reviewed the history of the city, whose historical center was declared a National Heritage in 2011, going back to the origins of this town in the province Central Villa Clara, once the province of Las Villas, founded on December 8, 1812 by Juan Caballero.
Sagua la Grande was not particularly involved in the War of Independence, so I enjoy a brilliant development during the second half of the 19th century and the first of the 20th century: royal neoclassical buildings and art noveau were built and it was one of the first towns to develop Progress such as sewage, rail, viaduct and the first telephone network of the center of Cuba.
Here the first romantic poem of the country, by Francisco Poveda and Armanteros, was written, it was published from the first scientific newspaper, El Eco de las VIllas, the first lay school, Luz y Verdad, was born, and was constituted from the first political party after the Spanish colonization .
It was one of the first Cuban cities to enjoy electric power, without forgetting its powerful sugar industry, the second most important in times of the Republic.
Sagua la Grande boasts an artistic spirit, in which several of the most recognized Cuban artists worldwide were born. © Manena Munar
CAYOS CULTURAL COMPLEMENT
During the presentation, the importance of Sagua la Grande was emphasized as a cultural complement to the sun and beach destination of the nearby Cayo Esquivel, since the city is a nest of native artists, such as the great Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam or Antonio Machín, author by Angelitos Negros, El Manisero …
Also born here are the sublime musician Rodrigo Pratts, the poet Rosalia Castro and Kid Gavilán, one of the many great boxers that the city has given.
Puente del Triunfo, link of the banks of the Undoso river and place of walk for the population. © Manena Munar
SAGUA THE BIG OPENS ABROAD
Marrero also reported on the potential investments of well-known international hotel chains in the city. He took advantage of the event to announce the agreement between the French agency Louvre Hotels and the Cuban company Cubanacán to convert the Spanish Casino (one of the most beloved buildings in the city) into a hotel and recalled how the German agency Thomas Cook has incorporated Sagua la Grande in its winter catalog.
There was also talk about the works on the El Triunfo bridge, link of the banks of the Undoso river and place of walk of the population, which crosses it to contemplate the flow of the flow.
The river Sagua or Undoso, which divides the city, takes its navigators to the port of Isabela de Sagua, while showing them the unusual landscape of its meanders and the curious caves of river origin: the Mogotes de Jumagua.
Banks of the Undoso River through which you navigate to the port of Isabela de Sagua. © Manena Munar
NEW TOURIST DESTINATION
After the event, the Minister of Tourism gave Carlos Amaury Figueredo, first secretary of the PCC, and Aurora González Sánchez, president of the government in the northern municipality, the distinction that formalizes Sagua la Grande as a new tourist destination.
And as proof of the beginning of this new stage, the official entourage inaugurated two emblematic and newly restored buildings converted into hotels: the Arenas Palace, a great exponent of Art Nouveau, and the Hotel Sagua.
On the street, the sagüeros had a great time. To the hope of a new future for his city, we would have to add the jaranero character that the good Cuban enjoys and the ease to have fun, qualities that turned that day into an authentic revelry where rum and beer ran, danced to the rhythm of the sauce and the Cuban son, he ate suckling pig and corn … There seemed to be nothing more important in the world than the opening of Sagua la Grande to international tourism.
Opened a month ago, the Gran Hotel Sagua, in Sagua la Grande (Cuba). © Manena Munar
There are many ways to get to Sagua la Grande, located about 270 kilometers from Havana. By boat from the port of Isabela de Sagua, by train or by road from the beaches of Varadero, passing near the hot springs of Elguea and the Corralillo campsites. Also from the city of Santa Clara, prelude to the keys of Santa María, Las Brujas and Ensenachos. More information at: www.cubatravel.cu
The residents of Sagua la Grande waited to entertain the new arrivals. © Manena Munar
One of the neighbors of Sagua la Grande during the event. © Manena Munar