To Do in Camaguey
Antiguo Cuartel de Caballería del Ejército Español
Ave de los Martines #2, Camaguey, Cuba
Ballet de Camagüey
Carretera Central #3331, Camaguey, Cuba
From Parque de los Trabajadores head for the Teatro Principal on Padre Valencia. the building itself is attractive and interesting enough with it's stained-glass windows and chandeliers in the foyer. It is also the home of the internationally renowned Camaguey ballet
Casa Natal Nicolás Guillén
Calle Hermanos Agüero 58, e/ Cisneros y Principe, Camaguey, Cuba
Tel: +53 32 293706
Camagüey's most important literary figure, considered Cuba's national poet, was born in this house, which stands as a simple tribute to his life and enduring work.
Guillén, an Afro-Cuban born here in 1902, only lived in the house for 2 years, though he returned to Camagüey after studying law in Havana and worked as a journalist for a local paper. The house now functions primarily as a research and cultural center, with occasional poetry readings and concerts. A smattering of photographs, personal memorabilia, and copies of a handful of poems connect the house to the life and work of Guillén.
Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte
Ignacio Agramonte #459, Camaguey, Cuba
Opposite La Merced is the Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte, the birth-place and family of home of Camaguey's number-one hero, the 19th century revolutionary general, killed in action against the Spanish in 1873.
The museum traces Agramonte's life, career, and campaigns and has exhibits such as his letters and guns. The story is told entirely in Spanish but even if you can't speak a word of Spanish and you're not remotely interested in Ignacio Agramonte (which, I imagine, would describe most of my readers) it's still worth paying to get in (and it costs less than 1 cuc anyway) as the house has been restored to how it would have looked in the mid-19th century complete with authentic period furniture.
Camagüey Teatro Principal
Padre Valencia #64, Camaguey, Cuba
Carretera Camino Las Clavinas, Camaguey, Cuba
Calle Republica, Camaguey, Cuba
Historical center of the city of Camaguey declared a Wolrd Heritage by UNESCO
Conjunto Monumentario Ignacio Agramonte
Place of interest
Plaza de la Revolucion, Camaguey, Cuba
Hospital y Plaza San Juan de Dios
Take the road at the southwest corner of Parque Agramonte (Cisneros, by the Cathedral's tower); keep going until you see either Angel or Pacio Recio on your right, take one of these and then at the next corner go left on Doctor Emilio Gonzales, which goes to Hurtado and this will lead you to probably the highlight of Camaguey, the Plaza San Juan de Dios, now a National Monument. Either that or you could follow the signs that they've put up since my last visit.
Alternatively you'll now realize that you're hopelessly lost and have to ask someone for directions.
Either way, with luck you'll end up at the Plaza San Juan de Dios and you can stand there for a minute or so and think how worthwhile it was coming down here. This is an 18th century square which has been completely restored, as have all the colonial-era buildings than surround it. The fact that all the buildings have been paint-washed in different colors only makes it even more photogenic
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de La Merced
The most significant structure on the rather plain Plaza de los Trabajadores is this massive 18th-century brick church, Camagüey's most distinguished and in its day the largest in Cuba. A chapel existed on this spot in 1601; the present structure dates to 1748 (it was reconstructed in 1848 and again in 1909 after a fire). To one side of a lush cloister is the old convent, which still houses a rapidly decreasing number of nuns. The church is an eclectic architectural mix. Adorning the ceiling are surprising Art Nouveau murals, added in the 20th century. Also of note are the painted wood, neo-Gothic altar and the Santo Sepulcro, a 1762 casket elaborately fashioned from 25,000 silver coins and carried high by eight men during Easter processionals. Down narrow stairs behind the principal altar is a mysterious crypt, the remains of an extensive underground cemetery. Most of it was closed off after fire damage, but six macabre tombs with skeletons remain and are on creepy view alongside a small museum of 18th- and 19th-century objects uncovered at the church.
Iglesia de la Soledad
Republica & Maceo, Camaguey, Cuba
Museo Provincial Ignacio Agramonte
Ave de los Martines #2, e/ Ignacio Sanchez y Rotario, Camaguey, Cuba
Tel: +53 32 282425
Housed in a striking building that was once a Spanish cavalry barracks. The museum was closed for renovations on both my previous visits to Camaguey but apparently it contains exhibits on local history, flora and fauna (looking through the window I could see a few display cases of stuffed animals). Don't expect any information in English either. This may be the sort of museum where it's worth going in just to get a better look around the building.
Plaza San Juan de Dios
Plaza San Juan de Dios, Camaguey, Cuba
Tel: +53 32 291318
A National Monument and one of the most remarkable colonial relics in Cuba, this elegant and serene square looks like a meticulously designed movie set. Its charms are subtle but undeniable. The colonial arches, cobblestones, and houses with red-tile roofs and window grilles speak volumes about Camagüey's colonial past. The square, whose present design dates to 1732, holds great significance for Cubans: The body of the national independence war hero Ignacio Agramonte was brought here, after being burned by the Spaniards, for identification in 1873.
Plaza del Carmen
Plaza del Carmen, Camaguey, Cuba
Tel: +53 32 296901
A narrow pedestrian-only street of pastel-colored colonial row houses opens on to an irregularly shaped square.
Renovations have revamped the 18th-century square with street lamps, huge tinajeros, and slightly larger-than-life sculptures of locals in various poses of daily work and pleasure. The restored spot has done much to uncover a classic Camagüey colonial plaza.
Not long ago, the church and convent at the end of the open square stood roofless, in utter ruins. The baroque-style Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which dates to 1825, is now immaculately restored. It is the only church in Camagüey, and indeed in the whole eastern half of Cuba, topped by two towers. The early-19th-century Monasterio de las Ursalinas (Ursuline Convent) next door is now an architectural showpiece distinguished by handsome arches framing the expansive patio. Built in 1829, the convent later became a refuge for hurricane victims and a school for the poor after the sisters transferred their headquarters to Havana. In the years subsequent to the Revolution, it served several purposes; most recently it was a nondescript warehouse. The building was taken over in 1999 by the City Historian's office, and today the convent is an eye-pleasing beauty, well worth a peek inside
Museo de la Lucha Estudiantil
Republica #69, Camaguey, Cuba
Quinta Amalia Simoni
General Gomes #608, Camaguey, Cuba
Villa de Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe
Centro Historico Urbano
Santa Iglesia Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria
Cisneros #168, Camaguey, Cuba
Head South down Republica past the railway tracks and you come to one of Camaguey's churches the 18th century Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad.
From the outside it's huge but it's run-down, peeling appearance may put you off, as might the fact that it's often closed (although since the Pope's visit to Camaguey most of the churches are open more than they used to be). The interior though makes it well worth the trouble of trying to get in, with a large collection of statues and idols and some great if not particularly religious floral murals. Like many of Camaguey's churches it's usually a lot cooler inside than out