I’d never heard of Cienfuegos before I got to Cuba but once I started doing a little research, I thought it sounded like an interesting town and would be worth a stop for a couple of days. So I did, and dragged along my friend Emma, whose taxi to Viñales had broken down and needed a plan B.
I stayed three nights, but left feeling like I wasn’t finished. There was so much to do in this town that I actually came back and spent another two nights, and even then I didn’t get to do it all! So to help you out, here are 13 things to do in Cienfuegos.
You can climb a very rickety lookout tower, praying the whole way up that your foot doesn’t slide off that slippery rung, sending you tumbling back down to the rocky ground below.
From there it’s a short stroll to the small wooden dock. The boat driver rows you silently across the lagoon with water so still it’s like glass. Herons and pelicans perch in the mangroves high above you, preening themselves while keeping a careful eye out for that next yummy fish.
Punta Gorda is the old quarter of the upper class of Cienfuegos characterized by houses of luxury and palaces with turrets highlighting the Palacio Azul and the Yacht Club Cienfuegos, but most resplendent and attractive is a bit below, the exotic Palacio de Valle, a marvel of architecture and one of the emblematic buildings of the city of Cienfuegos, its construction began in 1913 and was completed in 1917, the work was entrusted to Italian architect Alfredo Colli and the foreman Juan Suarez at a cost a million and a half pesos for that time. The Palacio de Valle was an architectural whim. In it Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Italianate influences combined with the Moorish style that was in vogue in the Spain of the XII and XIII centuries. It is assumed that craftsmen involved in this work of different nationalities and experts for each specialty.
When you meet Carmen you’ll be so glad you came here. As far as I can tell she’s employed as the resident historian, in charge of vandalism prevention, maintenance, and researching the names and symbols seen in the cemetery.