Cuba is always striking, but if there is a city that captivates for its authenticity and its special beauty, that is Trinidad. This old colonial city that experienced its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century thanks to its powerful sugar industry is today one of the essential stops on any trip to Cuba, and more so if it is your first time. Along with Camagüey, it is one of the best examples to get to know the Cuba of Spanish colonialism and walking through its streets is like moving to the Trinidad of 1850, because the reality is that its historic center has changed little since then.
Trinidad was not always touristy, far from it. It raised its head in the 1950s when President Fulgencio Batista approved a conservation law that highlighted the charms that had fallen into oblivion and the results were not long in coming. In 1965 it was declared a National Monument and UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site in 1988, which made it one of the attractions with the greatest magnetism for travelers visiting the Caribbean island.
A little history to understand Trinidad
The city was founded in 1514 by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar as the Villa de la Santísima Trinidad and was the third Spanish settlement after Baracoa and Bayamo. Shortly thereafter, in 1518, Hernán Cortés left Trinidad practically empty of original inhabitants as he passed by recruiting mercenaries for the expedition to conquer Mexico, and for the following decades his subsistence depended on a group of Taínos.
Throughout the seventeenth century Trinidad fell into oblivion, the colonial authorities were in Havana and communications were disastrous, so without much effort it became a refuge for pirates and smugglers. But everything changed at the beginning of the 19th century, when a multitude of sugar factories emerged in the Valle de los Ingenios and Trinidad was capable of producing a third of all Cuban sugar. Trade brought wealth and wealth raised large buildings and luxurious mansions that still flank its streets today. Everything came to an abrupt end with the wars of independence, which devastated the plantations that gave life to Trinidad, and the city went into a deep lethargy for a whole century.
A trip to the colonial past of Cuba
Trinidad doesn’t really have a lot to see or do, but what it offers is so intense that it would be unforgivable to miss it. It is a city that is enjoyed walking from one side to the other, walking through its cobbled streets and contemplating its beautiful, colorful and huge colonial houses. Today they are divided to house several houses with high ceilings, but it is easy to imagine that time when they belonged to wealthy families from the sugar world.
In Trinidad you breathe calm. Tranquility. A slow pace that infects anyone. And it gives off a special light at sunset. Warm One of those that delight photography lovers. Ideal to sit down and have a canchánchara in, of course, La Canchánchara Tavern, and mix rum, honey and lemon in a single drink cooled with ice.
Trinidad by day and by night
In Trinidad all roads lead to its Plaza Mayor, the nucleus of its historic center and link to important buildings such as the Romantic Museum, the Museum of Trinitarian Architecture and the Museum of Archeology. In addition, of course, the Iglesia Mayor de la Santísima Trinidad, rebuilt in 1892, and the Bell Tower of the Convent of San Francisco, one of the most representative images of the city.
On the other hand, you have to visit the Municipal Historical Museum, a huge richly decorated mansion that deserves a visit if only to enjoy the views that are obtained from the top of its roof. In addition, you always have to leave a part of your walk to dedicate it to the Tres Cruces neighborhood, more humble but equally colorful. And if there is time we can always go to Playa Ancón, 11 km from Trinidad, or to the Valle de los Ingenios, about 7 km away, where some sugar cane is still being cultivated.
When night falls the city transforms and calm gives way to rhythm. The stairs of the church become a meeting point for locals and tourists, the salsa and the sound take over the atmosphere and even the most shy are encouraged to improvise a few steps. La Casa de la Música takes to the streets with its performances and, for dinner, we can always resort to the Taberna la Botija, with live music, or to restaurants such as Bistro Trinidad or La Redacción. Because if skipping Trinidad on our trip to Cuba would be a crime, it would also be a crime to leave without enjoying its more traditional cuisine.