Pinar del Río
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.