My hometown is Remedios, situated in Villa Clara province. It is the eighth village founded by the Spanish in Cuba. I like Remedios because of its culture, rich historical heritage and warm and cultured. Here are my ten reasons to visit Remedios.
1. Its on the Che Guevara – Beach tourist corridor
Recently, the city has been added to a new touristic corridor within the province of Villa Clara. This is a journey that provides a wholesome combination mixing history, culture and beautiful coastal towns. Remedios is 43 km at north of Santa Clara and 50 km south of Villa Clara Keys. This means you can visit the “Che Guevara Mausoleum” of Santa clara, the 500-years Historical Centre of Remedios and the beautiful northern beaches in the same week.
2. Parrandas of Remedios
In Christmas’s Eve we remedianos usually gather at the main plaza all night rather than staying at home having dinner. The reason is the Parrandas, the oldest fiesta in Cuba. It is a unique moment when the whole town and thousands of visitors can witness the great spectacle and the competition between two rivals. The inhabitants of Remedios usually support one of those sides in the parranda. My team is El Carmen, that’s why I sometimes wear a brown t-shirt to sport my side’s colours.
One thing I like to do is watch from across El Louvre the trabajos de plaza – this is about 8 pm. After that, comes the main firework show, but at times I skip it to move myself and friends to the Street of Paradero to get loose and enjoy the music.
3. Well preserved Historical Centre
The Historical Centre of Remedios is one of the reasons the city was given National Monument status in 1980. A restored colonial architecture mixed with modern ambience captivates the visitors. Heritage highlights include the Parroquial Mayor San Juan Bautista (Parish Church) and the chapel of Buenviaje, both located in the central plaza or Martí Park. This is the only square with two churches in the country. The Parish Church presents baroque altars with 22K gold plating.
There are four hotels around the main plaza: Mascotte, Barcelona, Camino del Príncipe and El Real, and other two under construction. Some splendid mansions have become offices, shops and well-preserved houses, which are now hostales. Here too you can be find the five metres tall majestic statue of liberty, made of Carrara marble.
4. Sightseeing and tours
The streets of Remedios are a real labyrinth. Sometimes I get lost myself. This unparalleled construction was meant to trick pirates who could come from the nearby coast. Strolling through the historical centre is a must. You can’t miss the sights in the city, which are easy to cover in two days. To buy souvenirs you can go the “Parque de la Trova” and find all the artisans in a single place. A good recommendation is Ana’s Gallery, a cosy private shop located just a few meters a from the main park. There you can find all sorts of original handicrafts made by the owners.
A popular nearby tour destination is the farm “La Cabaña”, located 4 km from the city centre. This country place is plenty with the native flora. There is a nice typical restaurant named “El Curujey”, where you can sample the roast pork cooked on a charcoal grill. The tour includes the visit to a bohío (typical Cuban hut) and horseback riding. To get back to Remedios you will take the train pulled by a steam locomotive.
5. Culture and Arts
Many artists like the famous painter Carlos Enríquez were born in the proximities. The gallery that bears his name has three different exhibition halls where you can appreciate the visual arts. Many cultural activities take place near the Martí park, like the monthly rumba exhibitions promoted by UNEAC, in the corner of Maceo and José Antonio Peña streets. The cabaret “Las Leyendas” and the sportclub-nightbar “El Golazo” are good options to listen to live music and dance.
The Casa de la Cultura, situated on the left side of Hotel Barcelona is a centre that fosters amateur music groups and supports young artists. It celebrates cultural activities with the community, mini concerts, literary workshops and it holds the rehearsal for musical groups, instrumentalist and dancers. You can have a look inside for free.
6. Musical heritage
Remedios has given birth to many musicians. Alejandro García Caturla, precursor of the folklore in the Cuban chamber music is a referent figure in the city. Another illustrious son of Remedios is the maestro Agustín Jiménez Crespo, pioneer of symphonic genre in the former province of Las Villas.
The Symphony Orchestra of Remedios is a renowned centenary band within the province and you can listen to their music every Thursday and Sunday mornings at the retretas (open-air concerts) held at the main square. There is also a Children’s Concert Band, emulator of the adult ensemble.
7. Unique museums
The History Museum “Francisco Javier Balmaseda” treasures several objects representing the local history since the aborigines to our time. The Museum of Music and the house where Alejandro García Caturla was born are also good places to visit. A contemporary assembly puts in touch the visitor with the different facets of the judge and composer. There is also a hall emphasising the music of Remedios.
The Museum of the Parrandas shows the development of this popular fiesta throughout the years. The museum gathers a vast collection of objects like flags, costumes and photographs that displays exclusive moments of the Parrandas. The three museums are near to each other and very close to the Historical Centre.
8. The warmth of the people
If you want to skip hotels to save budget and get closer to the locals, casas particulares are a great option. Remedios has more than one hundred, many of them near the main square. La Casona Cueto, La Estancia and Casa Messi are good examples of local hospitality and great attention.
9. Nice cuisine, bars and shops
Some restaurants have gained fame in the city such as La Pirámide, as well as properties La Paloma and La Estancia. For those who want to save money, Los Portales is a good choice. Los Portales is a government-run restaurant with good quality. You can order different dishes brimming with food and usually three kinds of meat recipes. Prices may vary from 45 to 75 Peso Cubano (2-3 CUC).
For 3-4 CUC you can drink the delicious mojito and other cocktails at Taberna Los 7 Juanes. You can choose to stay inside or even downstairs in the wine cellar. El Louvre is another nice bar near the main plaza, where you can seat outside in a table with umbrella and connect the near Wi-Fi hotspot. The shop Los Tres Reyes is a place to buy rum, cigars and Cuban coffee.
10. Legends and traditions
Remedios is a town full of legends and cultural traditions. On the 23rd of June, on the day of San Juan, local people are involved in competitions like the capture of the cerdo ensebado (greased pig) and the climb of the greased post. The winner obtains a prize, which in the case of the first competition is the pig itself. There is a tradition of the symbolic capture of the Güije of la Bajada (a local naughty black goblin) at 10 pm. The tradition involves seven young men with the name Juan, who successfully capture and tie the güije, but every year the goblin manages to escape and run away until the next year.
There are many legends and stories that have transcended across generations. They tell about impossible loves, witches, curses and supernatural beings. One of my favourite stories is “La cabeza de Patricio” (Patricio’s head). This legend is about a shoe mender who predicted the rain. When the copious hair of Patricio stood on end, the people knew that a storm was coming. Nowadays is common for locals to say when the day is overcast and tempestuous: “look at the Patricio’s head!”.
My name is Marlon, I’m an engineer living in Havana with a particular attraction for sports and outdoor activities. Before being dazzled by the capital city I lived half of my life in Remedios, in the province of Villa Clara but, wait… I thought I was born in the neighbouring town of Zulueta. Well, both are truth, cause I spend first years of my childhood coming and going from one place to another. In fact, that gave me a special fondness for traditions, like the Parrandas of Remedios and Zulueta and of course: football, the favourite sport of Cubans. Or it was baseball? Anyway, what matters is that we zulueteños have a close relation with the beginnings of football in Cuba.
I am enthusiastic about hiking in the beautiful landscapes of our green caiman. I have backpacked to some of the greatest places in Cuba’s geography, including the amazing Turquino Peak. To me, travelling is a like, mainly if I do it along with my friends. I’m also keen on the urban, fashionable ambience of Havana.