Baracoa, in the embryo of Cuban culture
One could think that an almighty hand drew, like the caprice of immortals, the oldest colonial city on the Island. It could even be written that its streets, houses, parks and monuments blend in perfect harmony with a fantasy landscape.
Not in vain, the First City of Cuba is hidden between mountain ranges, crystalline rivers and paradisiacal beaches. The abundant endemic vegetation makes the visitor sigh and believe that there is no greater happiness.
On August 15th, 1511, not only was the town of Our Lady of the Assumption of Baracoa born, but also the autochthonous, the creole, our own was also born, or if you prefer: Cuban identity was born.
You may not know it, but Baracoa was the first capital city of Cuba and had the first cathedral and the first bishopric in the nation.
The Historic Center, a National Monument, is the most significant urban space in the city given its historical, architectural and environmental values.
In the same way, it maintains its original urban design and is the only town that did not change its founding enclave. The fortune of its lands and the desire for justice motivated for decades confrontations between the natives and the Spanish conquerors. From this period, a legend defies centuries and generations to stand on a sacred pedestal: Hatuey, the chief, and his imprint.
Narrow and cobbled streets surround old mansions that stretch from La Punta Fort to Matachín Fortress, two of its most important attractions next to the Castillo de Seboruco.
The gastronomy of the region invites you to delight in dishes such as bacán, made from green plantain wrapped in (banana) leaves, in the same way as the corn tamale.
The peniplain summit of El Yunque, National Monument of Cuban Nature and the archetypal landscape of the Cuban northeast, can be seen from any point of the geography.
Baracoa is the capital of coconut and cocoa, Alejandro Hartmann Matos, fervent director of the Office of the City Curator, tells me. He talks to me about landscapes, "City of Waters", marine environments, exuberant vegetation.
As if that were not enough, he explains to me that this immense protected area is among the most important of the Biosphere Reserves declared by UNESCO in the Insular Caribbean.
Emotion overwhelms him when he evokes the Santa Cruz de la Parra, a National Monument, Baracoa's identity symbol, and treasure of the nation.