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Enhance Your Cuba Vacations With UNESCO World Heritage Sites

June 06, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 162

UNESCO World Heritage sites are places of significant cultural or natural heritage as described by the World Heritage Convention established in 1972. In 1981, Cuba recognized the convention and since then, 9 sites on the Island have been included on the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites. While mostly known as a sun destination and for world-class all inclusive resorts, Cuba's history and culture are just as impressive as the pristine beaches and turquoise waters. While in Cuba, a side trip to one of these nine UNESCO sites provides further insight and knowledge into the history and culture of the island.

Old Havana was founded in 1519 by Spanish colonialists to become one of the primary shipbuilding centers in the Caribbean. Built in Baroque and Neoclassical styles, this City became a Heritage site in 1982 for its incredible architecture and historical importance. A visit to Havana is like a journey through time with hints of 16th century architecture, a 1950's flair, but with modern amenities.

The City of Trinidad was founded in the 16th century and was an important base for Hernan Cortes' expedition to conquer Mexico. The sugar cane industry lead to great prosperity throughout the colonial period and the incredible architecture is still prevalent to this day. History and culture buffs will find Trinidad as interesting as it is charming. Trinidad was placed on the Heritage list in 1988 due to its historical and cultural significance as well as being one of the best preserved colonial cities in the world.

San Pedro de la Roca Castle was completed in 1700 to defend the city of Santiago de Cuba against invaders. This fortification, built in the style of renaissance architecture, is one of the best preserved examples of Spanish-American castles. In 1997, UNESCO added the fortress to the list for its historical significance and role in defending the city. The castle itself is a definite must see for anyone staying in the Santiago de Cuba area.

Granma National Park is named after the yacht Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara sailed from Mexico along with Fidel's brother Raul and 79 of their supporters to incite the Revolution. This was listed as a UNESCO Site in 1999 not for the historical significance, but for its pristine sea cliffs and marine terraces. The area boasts superb diving and is worth a stop for both Eco-tourists and history buffs.

Vinales Valley and its rich soil originally was an essential location for Cuban agriculture as the bottom of the valley supported perfect conditions for tobacco and other crops however, in recent years the valley has become a major tourist destination for hiking and rock climbing. Eco-tourists flock to the region to take in the incredible scenery and thriving flora and fauna specific to this region of Cuba. The increase in tourism to the area has resulted in the discovery of new hiking and climbing routes each with their own set of unique challenges. The Vinales Valley was designated a UNESCO site in 1999 for its natural beauty and traditions.

Plantations near Santiago de Cuba were an essential part of Cuba's economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries due to the cultivation of coffee. The remnants of the plantations in the region showcase the techniques used as well as highlight the economic and social significance of the plantation system in not only Cuba but throughout the rest of the Caribbean.

Cienfuegos on the south coast of the island was recognized as a UNESCO site in 2005 for its importance historically and culturally. Although founded in 1819 as a Spanish colony, the first settlers were French immigrants. As a centre for trade in the sugar cane, coffee and tobacco industries, the city and surrounding Bay of Cienfuegos was a focal point of the Cuban economy. Today, the Colonial structures still remain and the culture of the city is still embedded in its original Spanish and French roots.

Camaguey was first settled in 1528 and is one of the first seven villages founded by the Spanish. Being a prime target for pirates and other invaders, the town was relocated inland and in order to fool or trap enemies, the roads are a maze of twists, dead ends and narrow corners. Influenced by medieval European construction, the city remains true to the atmosphere of Spanish colonialism. Camaguey was named a UNESCO site in 2008 for its preserved architecture and rich history.

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park near Holguin was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 mostly due to its natural diversity, extensive range of flora and fauna, size and complexity of the ecosystem. This incredible National Park is an eco-tourist's haven with some of the best hiking and birding opportunities in the Caribbean.

Cuba vacations are immensely diversified and offer everything from typical beach and resort getaways to fantastic eco-tourism, top-notch diving, and a massive assortment of cultural and historical tours. It is a destination that suits the needs of any type or style of travel and can be either as complex or easy-going as you want.

Between lazing on the perfect beaches, sipping Mojitos, and soaking in the warm Cuban vibe, take time out to enjoy one or more of these UNESCO sites on your Cuba Vacations

Source: EzineArticles
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