Santiago de Cuba and Environs

Santiago de Cuba is called "The Heroic City." Fidel Castro officially gave the city this designation in 1984, the only place in Cuba to be so honored. Santiago has been a center of resistance in all of Cuba's independence struggles. The city's motto is "Rebellious yesterday, hospitable today, heroic always." This downtown building bears the image of Camilo Cienfuegos, one of the most popular heroes of the Cuban Revolution.
In Santiago de Cuba, the cultures of Africa and Europe have created a darker, richer brew than anywhere else in Cuba.There are museums and galleries, some magnificent architecture, a picturesque if tattered colonial core, and great traditional music. Touring the city by bike is daunting at first because of traffic congestion and pollution. However, it is not as dangerous as it initially seems, thanks to the fact that Cuban drivers are used to cyclists in their midst. A monument to Antonio Maceo, Cuba's greatest 19th-century military hero, dominates the Plaza de La Revolucion.
If downtown Santiago de Cuba is not ideal for cycling, it is still a great hub from which to begin your explorations of the Oriente. One-day cycle outings include a ride to Cuba's most-visited church, the Iglesia de La Caridad del Cobre, the shrine of Cuba's patron saint. We also enjoy riding to El Christo, a nearby country town, and to El Morro, a Spanish colonial fort that guards the entrance to the bay.
Our favorite cycle outing from Santiago de Cuba goes to Granita Siboney, a virtual shrine of the Cuban Revolution, to the beach at Siboney, and to the Bacanao Reserve, a huge area that has been recognized by UNESCO for its biodiversity. There are more sites of historic importance packed into this 50-kilometer out-and-back ride than into any other of similar length that we know.