Pi­nar del Río

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PI­NAR DEL RÍO

It is the wes­tern­most pro­vin­ce of Cu­ba and is con­si­de­red a na­tu­ral pa­ra­di­se. Its te­rri­tory in­clu­des two areas de­cla­red by UNES­CO as Biosphere Re­ser­ves: the Sierra del Ro­sa­rio moun­tain ran­ge and the Gua­naha­ca­bi­bes Pe­nin­su­la. Dis­tin­guis­hed as the "Na­tu­ral Cat­he­dral of Cu­ba", Pi­nar del Rio is world-fa­mous for the Vi­ña­les Valley and for being the land whe­re the best to­bac­co of the world is grown.

Ca­pi­tal: Pi­nar del Río Ex­ten­sion: 8, 884.51 squa­re km

Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties: Pi­nar del Río, Con­so­la­ción del Sur, Los Pa­la­cios, La Pal­ma, Mi­nas de Ma­taham­bre, Vi­ña­les, San Luis, San Juan y Mar­tí­nez, Gua­ne, Man­tua and San­dino

Demonym: pi­na­re­ño/a Li­mits: It li­mits to the north with the Gulf of Me­xi­co, to the east with the pro­vin­ce of Ar­te­mi­sa, to the south with the Ca­rib­bean Sea, and to the west with the Channel of Yu­ca­tán.

Ac­cess: The main ac­cess ways are by land: from Ha­va­na it can be reached by the Na­tio­nal High­way. It is al­so pos­si­ble to ac­cess it by train, whi­le by sea it can be ac­ces­sed th­rough the Ca­bo de San An­to­nio Ga­vio­ta Ma­ri­na on the Gua­naha­ca­bi­bes Pe­nin­su­la.

PLA­CES OF IN­TER­EST GUA­NAHA­CA­BI­BES NA­TIO­NAL PARK Pe­nin­su­la of Gua­naha­ca­bi­bes, San­dino

De­cla­red by Unes­co as a Biosphere Re­ser­ve in 1987, the park is ho­me to co­ral re­efs, man­gro­ves and num­ber­less spe­cies of en­de­mic plants. It has about 140 ar­chaeo­lo­gi­cal si­tes re­la­ted to the first population groups that settled in the re­gion. Lo­ca­ted on the southern coast of the pe­nin­su­la, from Ca­bo Co­rrien­te to El Cajon, the­re are the best sandy bea­ches whe­re every year do­zens of turtles and log­ger­heads (Ca­ret­ta ca­ret­ta) lay their eggs.

Its fo­rests ser­ve as re­fu­ges for hu­tias, igua­nas, wild pigs, deer, va­rious spe­cies of li­zards, land crabs and mo­re than 170 spe­cies of birds. Fis­hing is ban­ned in most of its coasts. Re­cently, a spe­cial in­fras­truc­tu­re has been de­ve­lo­ped for the ex­ploi­ta­tion of eco­lo­gi­cal tou­rism and, wit­hin this, sport fis­hing in the sty­le of catch and re­lea­se, wit­hout cau­sing great da­ma­ge to ma­ri­ne fau­na.

CA­BO SAN AN­TO­NIO MA­RI­NA

Tel 048 750118

It is lo­ca­ted at the wes­tern­most end of the Gua­naha­ca­bi­bes Pe­nin­su­la, just 7 km from the Ron­ca­li Light­hou­se, built in 1859. Su­rroun­ded by the sea and the fo­rest, it is in an area known as Los Morros de Pie­dra. Sui­ta­ble for fis­hing, di­ving and sai­ling on yachts, it is ideal for re­fue­ling and food supplying, due to its ex­cep­tio­nal geo­grap­hi­cal lo­ca­tion, fa­cing the Gulf of Me­xi­co. It is a busy zo­ne due to its ma­ri­ti­me traf­fic.

MA­RÍA LA GOR­DA BEACH

Pe­nin­su­la of Gua­naha­ca­bi­bes, San­dino

Dazz­ling due to the rich­ness and great beauty of its sea­bed, it is ho­me to Cu­ba's lar­gest black co­ral population. It owes its na­me to the le­gend of Ma­ría la Gor­da who along with ot­her wo­men was aban­do­ned by pi­ra­tes in the area. Over the years and with a few ex­tra pounds, Ma­ria be­ca­me the host of a fa­mous brot­hel.

An ideal pla­ce for rest and pro­fes­sio­nal di­ving, it has the

In­ter­na­tio­nal Di­ving Cen­ter Ma­ría la Gor­da

(Tel 048 778131), with gear ren­tal ser­vi­ces and pro­fes­sio­nal ad­vi­ce. The sea bot­tom of­fers spec­ta­cu­lar con­trasts of co­lor and trans­pa­rency, ideal for the prac­ti­ce of un­der­wa­ter pho­to­graphy. The wreck of a Spa­nish ga­lleon is lo­ca­ted 200 me­ters from the beach. Gi­gan­tic whale sharks are com­monly wat­ched in the area.

HIKING AND BIRDWATCHING

Eco­lo­gi­cal Sta­tion, Tel 048 750366 It of­fers boo­kings for trek­king, birdwatching tours and a sa­fa­ri to Ca­pe San An­to­nio, which in­clu­des turtle spaw­ning watching in sum­mer. The sta­tion has a 3D map, plus in­for­ma­tion on lo­cal eco­logy.

Bos­que Mar (Fo­rest-sea) Trail

Ap­pro­xi­ma­tely 1.5 km in length, de­par­ting from the Eco­lo­gi­cal Sta­tion to the sea, it in­clu­des spe­cia­li­zed gui­des. The tour al­so in­clu­des a ca­ve with a ce­no­te of spec­ta­cu­lar wa­ters for swim­ming.

Las Per­las Ca­ve Trail

A tour of ap­pro­xi­ma­tely 1.5 km long th­rough the ca­ve sys­tem with the sa­me na­me.

Ma­ria’s Trea­su­re Trail

An ap­pro­xi­ma­tely 4 hour’s tour around Ma­ría La Gor­da.

SABANALAMAR

It is a na­tu­ral shel­ter of flo­ra and fau­na lo­ca­ted 60 km west of Pi­nar del Río in the southern plain of the re­gion. The only ecosys­tem whe­re vi­si­tors may en­joy va­rious at­trac­tions such as the Are­nas Blan­cas Trail, vi­sit the cro­co­di­le bree­ding farm, watch than 105 spe­cies of birds such as car­ta­cu­ba (the Cu­ban Tody: To­dus mul­ti­co­lor), the to­co­ro­ro (the Cu­ban Tro­gon: Prio­te­lus tem­nu­rus), com­mu­ni­ties of pi­geons of dif­fe­rent spe­cies and wood­pec­kers.

VUEL­TA ABA­JO

The Vuel­ta Aba­jo re­gion, with its cen­ter in the town of San Juan y Mar­tí­nez, is lo­ca­ted about 15 km south­west of the city of Pi­nar del Río. It has an ex­ce­llent com­bi­na­tion of cli­ma­te, land and suns­hi­ne, which ma­ke the to­bac­co grown the­re to be con­si­de­red the best in the world. About 6,500 hec­ta­res of land are ex­clu­si­vely de­di­ca­ted to the cul­ti­va­tion of to­bac­co and are known as ve­gas. It is pos­si­ble to vi­sit El Pi­nar San Luis es­ta­te, which for six ge­ne­ra­tions, sin­ce 1845, has be­lon­ged to the fa­mily of the fa­mous ve­gue­ro Ale­jan­dro Ro­bai­na.

PI­NAR DEL RÍO CITY

It was foun­ded in 1699 and bes­to­wed with the official title of city in 1867. Its his­to­ri­cal ur­ban cen­ter is cha­rac­te­ri­zed by a great di­ver­sity of ar­chi­tec­tu­ral sty­les and the beauty and neat­ness of its streets. Among its main at­trac­tions are:

Guash Pa­la­ce Na­tu­ral Scien­ce Mu­seum

Mar­tí Es­te No. 202, and Ave. Co­man­dan­te Pi­na­res Tel 048 779483

It dis­plays the na­tu­ral history of the pro­vin­ce. Among its main pie­ces are di­no­saur fos­sils in­clu­ding a Ty­ran­no­sau­rus rex and a Me­ga­loc­nus­ro­dens, a spe­cies of an ex­tinct giant ro­dent that in­ha­bi­ted the re­gion thou­sands of years ago. The mu­seum is lo­ca­ted in the or­na­te buil­ding known as

Pa­la­cio Guash, built in 1914 by the Spa­nish doc­tor Fran­cis­co Guash, who re­crea­ted in it ele­ments of dif­fe­rent ar­tis­tic and ar­chi­tec­tu­ral sty­les ap­pre­cia­ted in his tra­vels. Thus, the co­lon­na­de that sup­ports the en­tran­ce is com­po­sed of At­he­nian co­lumns ador­ned with Egy­ptian mo­tifs whi­le Got­hic fau­cets and gar­goy­les adorn the faça­de.´

Jo­sé Ja­cin­to Mi­la­nés Thea­ter

Ca­lle Jo­sé Mar­tí No. 60, bet­ween Re­creo and Co­lón Tel 048 753871

On No­vem­ber 28, 1898, it took its pre­sent na­me in honor to the Ma­tan­zas poet Jose Ja­cin­to Mi­la­nés. For­merly ca­lled Tea­tro Lo­pe de Ve­ga, it is a je­wel of the la­te neo­clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­tu­re of the re­gion. It was re­cently reope­ned af­ter se­ve­ral years of res­to­ra­tion. Im­por­tant per­so­na­li­ties of Cu­ban and in­ter­na­tio­nal cul­tu­re ha­ve per­for­med on its sta­ge.

Pro­vin­cial Mu­seum of History

Mar­tí Es­te No. 58, bet­ween Co­lum­bus and Isa­bel Ru­bio Tel 048 754300

It is a must-vi­sit si­te for tho­se who want to know about the history of the city. It keeps im- por­tant do­cu­ments of the re­gion from pre-co­lum­bian ti­mes to the pre­sent. It ope­ned its doors as a mu­seum on De­cem­ber 14, 1979 with an ex­hi­bi­tion hall, ex­ten­ding its co­llec­tion, two years la­ter, to anot­her fi­ve rooms. The buil­ding that the mu­seum oc­cu­pies was cons­truc­ted in 1874 in neo­clas­sic sty­le. It has a wi­de co­rri­dor sup­por­ted by tall co­lumns and de­li­mi­ted by a beau­ti­ful wall. Its spa­cious in­te­rior rooms and co­rri­dors bor­der the ma­jes­tic rec­tan­gu­lar in­te­rior court­yard, a cha­rac­te­ris­tic of the ar­chi­tec­tu­re of the re­gion.

Ca­sa Ga­ray Be­ve­ra­ge Factory

Isa­bel Ru­bio sur No. 189, bet­ween Ce­fe­rino Fer­nán­dez and Frank Pais, Tel 048 752966

The factory pro­ces­ses and ela­bo­ra­tes the de­li­cious and aro­ma­tic Gua­ya­bi­ta del Pi­nar drink, in­dus­tria­li­zed and mar­ke­ted sin­ce 1892. As a pro­vin­ce's hall­mark, which com­bi­nes the best of the Spa­nish li­quor tra­di­tions and the de­lights of a wild fruit en­de­mic to the te­rri­tory,

Psi­dium gua­ya­bi­ta, uni­que of its kind in the world, this drink main­tains aut­hen­ti­city, qua­lity, demand and ex­clu­si­vity, as well as its hand­craft tra­di­tions of pac­king, cap­ping, la­be­ling and pac­ka­ging.

FRAN­CIS­CO DONATIÉN TO­BAC­CO FACTORY

Ca­lle An­to­nio Ma­ceo Oes­te No. 157, esq. Aje­te, Tel 048 773069

It is lo­ca­ted in one of the em­ble­ma­tic cons­truc­tions of the ar­chi­tec­tu­re of the ni­ne­teenth cen­tury. The buil­ding, built in 1833, hou­ses an im­por­tant to­bac­co factory whe­re the world­fa­mous Ha­ba­nos are pro­du­ced, using cen­tu­ries-old hand­ma­de met­hods. At the en­tran­ce of the buil­ding, the vi­si­tor may find a va­ried as­sort­ment of the best vi­to­las and dif­fe­rent brands in the Vuel­ta Aba­jo Ca­sa del Ha­bano (Ha­bano to­bac­co­nist´s.)

VI­ÑA­LES VALLEY AND NA­TIO­NAL PARK

It is lo­ca­ted in the Sierra de los Ór­ga­nos, just in the moun­tain ran­ge of the Cor­di­lle­ra de Gua- ni­gua­ni­co. It is a protected area dis­tin­guis­hed by the pre­sen­ce of mo­go­tes, moun­tai­nous for­ma­tions of flat tops, uni­que in the Is­land. Con­si­de­red by ex­perts as the most spec­ta­cu­lar lands­ca­pe of Cu­ba, it was de­cla­red by UNES­CO a World He­ri­ta­ge Si­te, in the ca­te­gory of Cul­tu­ral Lands­ca­pe, In the year 1999.

In the area of Vi­ña­les, the­re are 47 ar­chaeo­lo­gi­cal si­tes; 19 of them are re­la­ted to pre-his­pa­nic abo­ri­gi­nal com­mu­ni­ties, whe­re evi­den­ces of their fu­ne­ral cus­toms may be seen. Whi­le the re­mai­ning 28 are re­la­ted to the pre­sen­ce in the area of Afri­can ma­roon sla­ves.

The small town of Vi­ña­les, lo­ca­ted 26 km north of Pi­nar del Río, was foun­ded in 1875 and has among its at­trac­tions:

Main Squa­re of Vi­ña­les

Sal­va­dor Cis­ne­ros and Ce­fe­rino Fer­nán­dez

An ideal pla­ce for re­la­xa­tion and en­joy­ment of cul­tu­ral ac­ti­vi­ties, it is su­rroun­ded by ro­yal palm trees and has in its cen­ter a bust of Mar­ti, the Na­tio­nal He­ro. The main buil­dings around it are the small Igle­sia del Sa­gra­do Co­ra­zón de Je­sús (a church), built in 1883,

the Hou­se of Cul­tu­re with its Art Ga­llery, which hou­ses cul­tu­ral events and ex­hi­bi­tions of lo­cal han­di­crafts, and a Cul­tu­ral Cen­ter that pays tri­bu­te to mu­si­cian Po­lo Mon­ta­ñez.

Gran Ca­ver­na de San­to To­más

Lo­ca­ted 18 km from the town of Vi­ña­les, it is con­si­de­red the most im­por­tant ca­ve sys­tem in Cu­ba and one of the lar­gest in La­tin Ame­ri­ca. It has mo­re than 46 km of ga­lle­ries car­ved by the ac­tion of ground­wa­ter and 8 le­vels still un­der study. Be­cau­se of its great na­tu­ral va­lue, it was de­cla­red a Na­tio­nal Mo­nu­ment. As a des­ti­na­tion of spe­cial in­ter­est for lo­vers of ad­ven­tu­re and ca­ving, it has gui­de and gear ren­tal ser­vi­ces to tour its dif­fe­rent ca­ves.

Mu­ral of Prehis­tory

Gon­zá­lez, who was the Di­rec­tor of Car­to­graphy in the Cu­ban Aca­demy of Scien­ces, with the help of 25 Lo­ca­ted in the Dos Her­ma­nas Valley, it was pain­ted on one si­de of the Mo­go­te Pi­ta by Leo­vi­gil­do pea­sants. With 120 m of height and 260 m in length, it re­pre­sents the evo­lu­tio­nary pro­cess of dif­fe­rent spe­cies, from mo­llusks, di­no­saurs, and mam­mals, to the first settlers of the valley, abo­ri­gi­nal groups known as gua­naha­ta­be­yes.

Mu­seum of Prehis­tory

Road to El Mon­ca­da, km 3, Vi­ña­les, Tel 048 793223

Lo­ca­ted in the Dos Her­ma­nas cam­ping si­te, just in front of the mu­ral en­tran­ce, it shows pre-his­pa­nic pie­ces and ex­tinct spe­cies that in­ha­bi­ted this area, dis­co­ve­red and des­cri­bed by An­to­nio Nú­ñez Ji­mé­nez in his in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Los Acuá­ti­cos Com­mu­nity

La Pe­ni­ten­cia, Sierra del In­fierno, Vi­ña­les

As re­si­dents of a small com­mu­nity sin­ce 1943 in the Sierra del In­fierno, its in­ha­bi­tants, ins­pi­red by the phi­lo­sophy of the folk hea­ler An­to­ñi­ca Iz­quier­do, ha­ve a pro­found faith on the cu­ra­ti­ve po­wer of wa­ter. Be­cau­se of their be­lief, they do not par­ti­ci­pa­te in any ac­ti­vity of a po­li­ti­cal na­tu­re, re­fu­se to bear official iden­tity do­cu­ments and to cu­re their ail­ments they only use wa­ter. The dif­fi­cult ac­cess to the settle­ment of their com­mu­nity and their sim­ple ways of li­fe ma­ke them a cu­rio­sity for the vi­si­tors of Vi­ña­les who wish to en­joy the beauty of the­se vir­gin lands.

Pa­len­que de los Ci­ma­rro­nes (Ma­roons’ Settle­ment) or Jo­sé Mi­guel Ca­ve

This ca­ve, lo­ca­ted in an ex­ca­va­tion east of the Sierra de Vi­ña­les, re­crea­tes a settle­ment of sla­ves who fled from their mas­ters to the moun­tains whe­re they found re­fu­ge. Vi­si­tors may en­joy fol­klo­ric per­for­man­ces from Afro-cu­ban cul­tu­res. The si­te is wi­dely known as the Jo­sé Mi­guel Ca­ve sin­ce it was vi­si­ted by for­mer Pre­si­dent of the Re­pu­blic Jo­sé Mi­guel Gó­mez. Vi­si­tors may en­joy a walk th­rough the in­te­rior of the ca­ve, which ends with a vi­sit to a res­tau­rant spe­cia­li­zing in lo­cal fla­vors, El Pa­len­que de los Ci­ma­rro­nes (Road to Puer­to Es­pe­ran­za km 34, Vi­ña­les / Tel 048 796290)

Cue­va del In­dio (The In­dian´s Ca­ve)

Lo­ca­ted ap­pro­xi­ma­tely 5.5 km north of the town of Vi­ña­les, it was na­med af­ter the abo­ri­gi­nal re­mains found in its in­te­rior. It reaches 300 m of width. In its in­te­rior flows the San Vicente sub­te­rra­nean ri­ver that can be tra­ve­led on a boat. The walk allows watching the in­ter­es­ting for­ma­tions of sta­lac­ti­tes and sta­lag­mi­tes, as well as pain­tings and car­vings ma­de by the abo­ri­gi­nes.

LA GÜI­RA NA­TIO­NAL PARK

It co­vers 21,853.8 hec­ta­res of vir­gin na­tu­re on the hig­hest peaks of the Sierra de los Ór­ga­nos. Much of the park oc­cu­pies the grounds of the for­mer ha­cien­da that be­lon­ged to the lan­dow­ner Jose Ma­nuel Cor­ti­na, the lar­gest of Pi­nar del Río and one of the lar­gest in the country. Af­ter the Triumph of the Re­vo­lu­tion, the na­tio­na­li­zed lands we­re tur­ned in­to a na­tu­ral re­ser­ve, which is used for the prac­ti­ce of eco­lo­gi­cal tou­rism.

LOS POR­TA­LES CA­VE

It is lo­ca­ted in the moun­tains of La Güi­ra Na­tio­nal Park and in its in­te­rior is the San Die­go Ri­ver. In this pla­ce, the Ché set up his com­mand post in this re­gion du­ring the Mis­si­le Cri­sis in 1962. At pre­sent, 4 km of its ga­lle­ries and 4 le­vels ha­ve been stu­died. It was de­cla­red Na­tio­nal Mo­nu­ment in 1978. It has the Cue­va de Los Por­ta­les cam­ping si­te (Tel 048 636749) that vi­si­tors may ac­cess with their own trans­por­ta­tion means and whe­re they may rent rus­tic ca­bins and tents.

SAN DIE­GO DE LOS BA­ÑOS

San Die­go de los Ba­ños is lo­ca­ted on the banks of the San Die­go Ri­ver, 60 km east of Pi­nar del Rio. Its mi­ne­ral-me­di­ci­nal wa­ters we­re dis­co­ve­red in the 17th cen­tury. Of a cons­tant tem­pe­ra­tu­re bet­ween 37 ° C and 40 ° C, they are ideal for treat­ments against rheu­ma­tism, skin con­di­tions, among ot­her di­sea­ses.

The town has the Ho­tel Mi­ra­dor

San Die­go (Ca­lle 23 Fi­nal, San Die­go, Los Pa­la­cios/tel 048

778338), San Die­go Spa (tel 048 548812) with un­der­ground pools for me­di­ci­nal baths, ideal pla­ces for ther­mal and na­tu­re tou­rism.

KEYS OF THE AR­CHI­PE­LA­GO OF THE CO­LO­RA­DOS Ca­yo Pa­raí­so (Ca­yo Mé­gano de Ca­si­guas)

As first of the cays of the Ar­chi­pe­la­go of the Co­lo­ra­dos, it owns sen­sa­tio­nal ma­ri­ne bot­toms for di­ving. Er­nest He­ming­way had a spe­cial at­tach­ment to the­se bea­ches. It is pos­si­ble to reach only by boat. It has su­perb co­rals and at 8 m deep you may ex­plo­re the re­mains of a sun­ken sail­boat. The pre­sen­ce of He­ming­way is re­mem­be­red with a dis­creet mo­nu­ment next to a small woo­den pier.

Ca­yo Le­vi­sa

With crys­ta­lli­ne wa­ters, it has an im­pres­si­ve co­ral re­ef and mo­re than 3 km of beach whe­re it is pos­si­ble to en­joy nau­ti­cal ac­ti­vi­ties such as ca­ta­ma­ran or ka­yak ren­tals, co­ral re­ef di­ving, day and night di­ving, as well as di­ving cour­ses, and tours around the es­tua­ries of Le­vi­sa.

Ca­yo Ju­tías

It is con­nec­ted to the Is­land by a cau­se­way and has a light­hou­se among its main at­trac­tions. It is cha­rac­te­ri­zed by the rich bio­di­ver­sity of its man­gro­ves, which con­tri­bu­tes to the sta­bi­lity of the key ecosys­tems. On the southern coast it has wa­ters ideal for wa­ter sports such as di­ving and fis­hing.

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