Guys, I originally planned to lump in Santa Clara with my Cayo Santa Maria Post, but here we are. We were only in Santa Clara for a hot second, but there is a lot to see (and I’m long-winded) so I decided to break it up. I promise this is the last Cuba post! Like everywhere else we visited (whole itinerary here), I wish we had more time, but I’m glad that we got a chance to see even a glimpse of Santa Clara.
Casa Itaca // There was a little mix up (surprise surprise) and our original host was double booked so she arranged for us to stay with her friend at Casa Itaca, which ended up being fabulous. The owners couldn’t be sweeter and their little boy, Ulysses, is adorable. In our short time with them, they prepared us an amazing breakfast and made all the necessary arrangements to get us transportation to the airport. Such amazing hospitality in this country!
A lot of what there is to see in Santa Clara are memorials or tributes to Che Guevara. The revolutionary led his men to fight and win the final battle of the revolution in Santa Clara, which is why the town is still known as “the city of the heroic guerrillas.”
Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado // This site marks the location of the final battle of the revolution. Che and his men used a bulldozer to remove 30 meters of tracks and subsequently captured the 350 men arriving on the 22-car train. The bulldozer they used remains as do the train cars which are littered with bullet holes.
Mausoleo del Che Guevara // The outside of this site contains a monument and other statues dedicated to Che and his life (this is the location of the first picture too). You can also visit the indoor mausoleum where Che’s remains are housed along with those of 29 other soldiers who were killed in an uprising in Bolivia in 1967. His body was returned to Cuba in 1997 and Fidel Castro lit an ‘eternal flame’ in memory of the fighter. There is also a small museum with Che’s personal belongings and diary entries which were interesting to see.
Parque Vidal // We wandered over to this main square after arriving relatively late on our one and only night in town. It was buzzing with young people who had all gathered to hang out (and get online). When we returned to the square the next morning, rather than teenagers we found old men chatting on park benches while small children took turns riding around in carts towed by goats. This little guy was yelling “Caballo!” to spur his goat along (which means horse for those of you who are little rusty on your español). The same phrase was muttered all day by our guide in Viñales, so it was pretty adorable to see a little cowboy in the making.
MelaÍto Murals // If you walk over to the Mausoleo del Che Guevara from Parque Vidal you can’t miss these murals along the way on Marta Abreu between Iglesia Santa Clara de Asis and the bus station. They are regularly updated by staff members from MelaÍto, a local graphic artists’ collective. When we were there, the majority of the artwork was focused on peace.
Mercado Agropecuario // We stumbled on this gorgeous little farmer’s market as we wandered around near the Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado. It’s down a tiny trail right off of park or you can go around the other way and find it at the end of Buen Viaje off La Cruz.
A couple others we didn’t have time for:
Statue of Che Guevara Holding a Child // If you haven’t gotten your fill of Che lore, you can head up the road from Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado to see this famous statue. There are mini statues within the larger one.
Teatro La Caridad // Wish we had time to take a peek at the beautiful interior of this theatre.
Fabrica de Tabacos // We visited a cigar factor in Trinidad, but this one is supposed to be excellent as well.
Eat and Drink
We arrived in Santa Clara at about 8 pm and had to be at the airport by noon the next day so we didn’t have a chance to actually visit any restaurants in town. We ate dinner at the resort in Cayo Santa Maria before departing and then had breakfast at Casa Itaca the next morning. The below are famous spots that were on our list, but that we didn’t have time for:
Restaurant Florida Center // Famed as the best restaurant in Santa Clara. Bummed with didn’t have the time to try this place out. The lush courtyard looks absolutely dreamy.
El Alba // Cheap prices (in CUP not CUC… you can read about the difference here) and the cartoon covered walls had this place on my list early on. Give it a try for me if you make it to Santa Clara won’t ya?
Cafe-Museo Revolucion // A little bar filled to the brim with artifacts from Cuba’s history and the revolution. Next time my friends!
Club Mejunje // This club is legendary and we were so disappointed we didn’t get to see it for ourselves.
La Marquesina // Another famous bar that we didn’t have a chance to patronize.
That wraps up our trip to Cuba! If you are thinking of going and have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out!