Trinidad Tourist Attractions
Visiting the town of Trinidad is like stepping back into another time period. The beautifully restored homes, church, and other buildings, along with the cobble stone streets and lack of modern architecture in the city center give the town a truly Colonial feel.
This historic area of Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Much of the architecture dates to between the 17th and 19th Centuries when Trinidad was a wealthy town, prospering from both the sugar and slave trades.Today Trinidad is one of Cuba's most popular tourist towns and the streets are often packed with foreigners. Vendors and touts ply the streets daily, offering travelers a range of goods or services. Some of the homes in the city center are run as guesthouses, offering independent travelers accommodation in the heart of the city.Although the most impressive part of Trinidad is the architecture, the town has many attractions worth seeing. Some of the main highlights for visitors are the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco with its distinctive bell tower, the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad, the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial, the art gallery at the Casa de Aldeman Oritz, and the Palacio Brunet, among others.Trinidad can also make a good base from which to explore some of the surrounding areas. From Trinidad it is possible to do day trips to the mountains north of the city for hiking and sightseeing, or head to the beach for some relaxing and water sports.
Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad
The Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad is located on the upper end of the Plaza Mayor. This is the largest church in Cuba and houses a much-worshipped statue known as Christ of the True Cross or Senor de la Vera Cruz. This 18th century wooden statue was bound for a church in Vera Cruz, Mexico from its place of Origin in Spain. However, strong winds were said to have kept the ship carrying the statue from its intended destination and instead landed it in Casilda, just a short distance from Trinidad. The captain of the ship decided to leave the statue behind when he set sail and the Senor de la Vera Cruz was taken to the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad.The church has a neo-Classical façade and contains some noteworthy altars made of cedar and mahogany. It is also renowned for its fine acoustics.
Playa Ancon, on the Peninsula Ancon is a major tourist destination just 12km / 7mi south of Trinidad. This area was one of the first tourist destinations, aimed at foreign tourists, to be developed in Cuba. Playa Ancon has all the major amenities and facilities you would find at place like Varadero but is visited by both foreigners and Cubans. There is a broader range of accommodation styles here. The white sand beach stretches on for some 4km / 2.5mi. Offshore are some great opportunities for scuba diving or snorkeling along a reef. One of the offshore islands, Cayo Blanco, is a popular excursion from Playa Ancon. In addition to the white sand beaches on the island, the reef here is the largest black coral reef in Cuba and offers a number of dive sites.Also on the Peninsula Ancon is La Boca, another beach area near the top of the peninsula, usually frequented by Cubans.
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco (Museo Nacional de Lucha Contra Bandidos)
The Museo Nacional de Lucha Contra Bandidos, housed in the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, features exhibits on the counter revolutionary forces, or 'bandits' of 1959 and the problems and battles that ensued. On display are photographs and documents, and equipment associated with these events that took place in Trinidad and other parts of the country.The Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco claims an eventful history. Built in 1813 by the Franciscans the convent was taken over and turned into a parish church in the mid 1800s. By the end of the 1800s it was being used as a jail and in the 1920s much of the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco was torn down. Some of the outer buildings and the bell tower were left standing. Today it accommodates the Museo Nacional de Ucha Contra Bandidos.
Ermita de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria de la Popa
For visitors looking to get a little exercise while in Trinidad, try walking up to the Ermita de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria de la Popa. From the Plaza Mayor walk up Simon Bolivar Street to this 18th Century church. It was part of a Spanish military hospital but was hit by a cyclone and sustained serious damage. The impressive bell tower, with three arches each containing a bell, was added after the cyclone in 1812. Today the Ermita de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria de la Popa is in ruins but is worth seeing, and more importantly, the view from this location over Trinidad is beautiful. People sometimes come here at sunset.
Museo de Arqueologia Guamuhaya
The Museo de Arqueologia Guamuhaya in Trinidad, displays a collection of archeological artifacts ranging from pre-Columbian times to and throughout the Colonial period. Exhibits cover such topics as the slave trade and the Spanish conquest, the Taino Indians, as well as collections of stuffed animals and other specimens found throughout Cuba. The Museo de Arqueolgia Guamuhaya is housed in the impressive 8th Century home once owned by Don Antonio Padron, a wealthy resident of Trinidad. Alexander von Humbolt once stayed in this house during one of his exploratory trips.The museum recently underwent restoration work.
Palacio Brunet (Museo Romantico)
The Palacio Brunet houses the Museo Romantico, with a fine collection of furniture and household wares from the early to mid 19th Century. This Colonial Mansion, built in the early 19th Century was owned by wealthy sugar mill owner Conde de Brunet from 1830 to 1860, which is referred to as the Romantic period. The Museo Romantico's collection is comprised of pieces from several Trinidad families, but primarily items that belonged to the Brunet family. On display are glass, porcelain, artwork, furniture, and other items from this time period. The Palacio Brunet is a very impressive piece of architecture with much detail and is well worth a visit.
Palacio Cantero (Museo Historico Municipal)
The Museo Historico Municipal in Trinidad is housed in the beautiful neo-Classical Palacio Cantero. This mansion, built in the early 1800s, belonged to the Borrel family and was later bought by Cantero, a German man whose name was actually Kanter. The Palacio Cantero with Italian marble floors and large open rooms, has an air of grandeur throughout. There is also a tower, which allows for great views of the surrounding area. The Museo Historico Municipal explores the history of Trinidad and the surrounding areas. On display are documents, maps, and exhibits on the Valle de los Ingenios, the industry of slave trading, and the wars of independence.
The Plaza Mayor lies in the historical center of Trinidad and is a good place to start a sightseeing tour of the city. Many of Trinidad's attractions are located on or near the Plaza Mayor, including the Museo Historico Municipal, the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad, the Museo Arqueologia Guamuhay, and the Museo de Arquitectura Trinitaria. In addition to the buildings and museums, the Plaza Mayor is also a good place to relax and watch life go by in this historic city. This area just off the square has a number of good restaurants and cafés, making it a nice place to spend a day exploring.
Plaza Santa Ana (Iglesia de Santa Ana)
The Plaza Santa Ana lies to the east of Trinidad's city center. Here visitors will find the remains of the large Iglesia de Santa Ana, built in the 18th Century. The most impressive feature is the bell tower, which dwarfs over the surrounding trees and buildings. Also on this same square is an old Spanish prison from the mid 1800s, which now serves as the tourist center and cultural center. On site here are an art gallery, craft market, ceramics store, and eating establishments. The large Plaza Santa Ana square is a local hang out area, but is quite open with little shade or greenery and can be quite hot on a sunny day.
Casa de Aldeman Ortiz (Galeria de Arte)
The Casa de Aldeman Ortiz is a Colonial mansion from 1809 that was originally built for Ortiz de Zuniga, a slave trader and mayor of Trinidad. The building now houses the Galeria de Arte, which contains an art school and also offers paintings for sale to the public. Most of the work is done by contemporary Cuban artists and is worth a look for those who have not seen this type of art before. Visiting the Galeria de Arte is also a good excuse to see the inside of the Casa de Aldeman. Note the frescoes and ornate ceilings, as well as the grand staircase.
Museum of Colonial Architecture
For visitors who find the architecture in Trinidad interesting and would like to learn more about the intricacies of the structures built during the Colonial period, the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial is the place to visit. The museum has collections of architectural trimming such as doors and door handles, locks, windows, grills, and other related items. The Museo de Arquitectura Colonial also offers guided tours through the historic streets of Trinidad, allowing visitors to better appreciate what they are seeing.The museum is housed in two 18th Century buildings that were joined in the early 19th Century and became the Sanchez Iznaga family residence.