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There are 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba. 7 cultural sites and 2 natural sites.
Cuba UNESCO Sites
Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba (2000)
This 19th-century coffee plantation is located at the foot of Sierra Maestra in Cuba’s Guantanamo Province. From the 19th to the 20th century, Cuba was into the coffee cultivation industry and this is preserved in this particular cultural site. The ruins of this old plantation showcase the techniques that were used at that time within the plantation system despite the difficult terrain. At the same time, it also provides a glimpse into the social and economic value of the industry to the way of life in Cuba, as well as the rest of the Caribbean.
For these reasons, the Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba was named one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba.
Historic Centre of Camagüey (2008)
This cultural site is another addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba. This historic center is known for its unique radius-concentric urban model. At the heart of this historic center is Plaza Mayor. Within Plaza Mayor, you will find churches and convents. Many of these churches are built in the 18th century. Due to the number of churches in the city, it has earned its nickname of “City of Churches”.
The colonial influence to the city’s architectural landscape is also highly evident. In fact, the architecture of the city can be likened to that of Andalucia in Spain. From the narrow streets to the clay buildings, all of these are reminiscent of a colonial style.
Old Havana and its Fortification System (1982)
The Old Havana is not just one of the cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba. It is also a historically important colonial city. It was the Spaniards who founded Havana in the early 16th century. The city was located on the natural harbor of Havana. It served an important stopping point for the Spanish Galleons that traveled from the Old World to the New World.
This UNESCO site encompasses 18 fortifications located along or near the coast and harbor of Havana. It also includes the harbor city center and a few extensions that were built in the 19th century. In addition, many castle ruins were also included in the UNESCO world heritage property.
San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba (1997)
The San Pedro de la Roca Castle was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba in 1997. This castle/fort sits atop a 60-meter high promontory along the Santiago harbor in Cuba. The coastline offers stunning views of the coast and a majestic backdrop featuring the Sierra Maestra range. This fort was built in 1587 by an Italian military engineer named Juan Bautista Antonelli. He was also responsible for designing many other forts in Cuba. This fort/castle was built to protect the city from the pillaging pirates who initially attacked the city in 1554. Even though it was designed in the 16th century, it was only completed in the early 18th century, in which the castle served little of its intended purpose.
Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios (1988)
Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios are two properties in one cultural UNESCO site. They are linked to each other due to their importance in the sugar trade in Cuba. This sugar trade was responsible for the rise of Trinidad to prosperity from the 18th and 19th centuries. Trinidad was founded in the early 16th century and served as the key point in the conquest of the American continent.
Today, Trinidad is one of the best preserved cities that were invaded by colonizers during the 16th century. It also has several remains from the sugar trade, which was the region’s main industry. Aside from the trade remains, there were several stone houses, buildings, and structures built during the time of the Spanish rulers that have survived today.
Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos (2005)
The Historic Centre of Cienfuegos is considered as the best example of urban planning principles in the Americas from the 19th century that still exists today. Since its founding in 1819, the Spanish Enlightenment and French colonists had a huge influence on the homogenic architecture and street planning in Cienfuegos. If you want to witness the colonial influence on architecture, you can go to the public square Parque Jose Marti. In this square, you will find fountains, the Worker’s Arch, City Hall, Theater, the Cathedral and other monumental buildings. Even the streets feature a neo-classic straight and symmetric design.
Viñales Valley (1999)
The Viñales Valley in Cuba is a karstic depression within Pinar del Rio. This valley is part of the Sierra de los Organos mountains. The bottom of the valley is a rich agricultural site wherein several types of crops are cultivated including tobacco. This is an important cultural site that was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba since these farmers use traditional agricultural techniques. In addition, the valley is surrounded by many caves that are spread throughout the hills. This area also represents one of the most lush parts of the country.
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (2001)
This national park is the first of two natural sites in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba. It belongs to the provinces of Guantanamo and Holguin. The park is named after Alexander von Humboldt, who is a German scientist who visited the island in the start of the 19th century. The site is recognized by UNESCO for its wealth of endemic flora and fauna species. At the same time, it is a massive park with complex lithology, landform diversity and altitude range.
This park is one of the most important biosphere reserves in the Caribbean region. It was also reported that the last sighting of the royal woodpecker was in this park, which prior to the sighting has been considered extinct.
Desembarco del Granma National Park (1999)
This national park completes the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba. It belongs to the Granma Province, which is located in the southeastern part of Cuba. The park was named after a yacht that Fidel Castro, Che Guevarra and other supporters rode in as they sailed from Mexico to Cuba. This sail incited the Cuban Revolution. The pristine sea cliffs and marine terraces in the park are crucial to it being named by UNESCO as a world heritage property.