Chroniclers told that when the first Spaniards arrived in Port au Prince, today Camagüey province, the chief Camaguebax went out to meet them with open arms. He treated them as brothers and arranged for them a strip of fertile land between two rivers. But the pilgrims did not understand the concept of friendship and gratitude and with their ambitious hands killed the aboriginal chief. They threw the dead body from the top of Cerro Tuabaquey. People born in this city told a fantastic history related to the death of the chief. They told that when the body crashed into the rocks, blood spurted and therefore lands are so red in Sierra Cubitas.

Grandparents tell many legends. Stories which in turn they heard from their ancestors and now these stories have new nuances in their throats. One of them was related to Father Valencia or Fray Jose de la Cruz who in 1815 boosted the works of the church Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the Ursuline Mothers Convent and the Women’s Hospital as well as the rebuilding of the leper asylum in the village of Port au Prince. The religious put everything he had at the service of the sick, who saw him as a miracle worker. Shortly after his death, an albino aura appeared in the lazareto grounds and the faithful associated it with the soul of the monk. They said he had returned to give relief to the lepers. The white eagle was exhibited throughout the country and auctioned later. The funds generated were used to ease life in the sanatorium.

Camagüey is known as the land of the tinajones (big jars) because of the presence of these in gardens and facilities of all kinds. By 1600 they began to be made from the red clay of the Sierra de Cubitas. The trapped water within its walls was used for drinking and cooking and for being offered to visitors. Some anecdotes evoke that such containers of large belly were used to hide Don Juans surprised in their romance.

A popular saying goes that whoever takes tinajon (big jar) water stays in Camagüey. Why don´t you dare to check it, eh? You may also go through the narrow streets, jumbled like pieces of a broken plate on the floor. An old air is breathed in this city, where persist the remains of the Spanish medieval architecture.

If by chance you get into the birthplace of the eponymous hero of the territory, Ignacio Agramonte, pay attention to the silence that reigns in this place, broken only by the chirping of some birds perched on ledges, watch the architectural details of this property that was built in the mid-eighteenth century and specialists say it collects all Hispanic, Moorish and Baroque footprint of Cuban colonial architecture, with influences from other styles like Neo-Classical and Rococo.

The cultural life of the city is amazing. The nights are short in theme bars and recreation centers where you can move your body to the rhythm of Cuban Son.

In recent years, luxury hotels have emerged in the city, such as Camino de Hierro, El Marqués, La Avellaneda and Santa Maria, which guarantee peaceful break to visitors.

If you’re traveling in a group and you want to surprise your friends, invite them to dinner at La Campana de Toledo belonging to the Palmares Complex. Employees of this unique colonial courtyard will receive you and say good bye to you with a bell, because Camagüey breathes, drinks and lives tradition.

By: Susana Rodriguez Ortega