Beautiful and totally renewed as if time would have stopped there, Camaguey, fourth villa founded by Spanish Conqueror Don Diego Velazquez on February 2nd 1514 by the name Santa Maria del Puerto del Príncipe, celebrates its 505th anniversary this 2019.
Known as the Ciudad de los Tinajones, since those huge big-mouthed clay jars (tinajones) incarnate its most popular code, this city´s main tourism offer focuses in its cultural and patrimonial values due to its ancestral cultural stock of marked medieval feature.
Camaguey treasures the largest historical center of the Island and one of the best-conserved ones, proclaimed in 2008 as World Heritage Site as acknowledgment of its exceptional values, among them: the singular framework of winding old bystreets ending in plazas and parks and the harmonious blend of different architectural styles.
Promenading legendary Camaguey by either day or night, the visitor enters a rich and authentic local culture deeply rooted among locals: refined free musical and troubadour like presentations in different locations; emblematic Marta Jiménez ‘statues in the Plaza del Carmen – turned into an outdoor gallery -, and multiple museums and religious buildings exhibiting funeral art master works of the XVII and XIX centuries.
Birthplace of outstanding artists, it seats the world famous Ballet de Camaguey, Cuba´s second classical ballet company also hosting festivals and events of diverse nature that reveal local artistic talents to which tourists can access freely.
As a suggestion, we recommend Ignacio Agramonte birthplace home and La Casa de la Trova, Colonial and Plastic Arts galleries, Ignacio Agramonte Park, La Merced and Nuestra Señora del Carmen churches as well as Los Trabajadores, del Carmen and San Juan de Dios plazas.
Those who like to enjoy good food and do some shopping at the same time can walk along Maceo and Independencia streets to visit stores, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, “paladares” (privately owned restaurants), cafeterias and many other amusement and recreational spaces.
Camaguey, as a tourism destination also offers an alternate modality of events tourism, mainly based in the Santa Cecilia Convention Center located in an iconic eclectic building close to hotels, restaurants and other facilities complementing the stay of those attending events.
The city hotel inventory consists mainly of small, intimate and picturesque hotels, most of them lodged in the beginning of the XX century buildings, typical of the traditional Camaguey home, located in the heart of the Historical Center. Meliá manages the Gran Hotel and Colón Hotel and will soon assume the INNSIDE Camaguey (presently Hotel Camaguey), Cubanacán on the other hand owns and manages elegant Camino de Hierro, El Colonial, Santa María, La Avellaneda, El Marqués and La Sevillana E brand hotels, while Islazul offers affordable stays in Isla de Cuba, Plaza and Puerto Príncipe hostels.
Many travel agencies and tour-operators marketing Camaguey offer a tourism package combining a city stay with extensions to Santa Lucía beach resort located in the northern coast, some 110 Kms away. This resort promotes an interesting beach, water sports and diving product with stays at one of three Cubanacán hotels or at a hotel managed by the Spanish Roc Hotels company, both chains mainly marketing the all-inclusive offer; there are also three affordable Islazul hostels.
Besides its international airport, Camaguey´s location in the Carretera Central (main highway) course is of easy access to all bus routes. You cannot refuse the invitation.
By: Josefina Pichardo