José Marti Park, located in Pinar del Río, west of the island, has a high historical and patrimonial value because it has been located in the environment where the original population center or village was created in the middle of the seventeenth century.

The scholars of history tell of the muleteers who carried tobacco and hides destined for Havana and that they took habit to meet in this place, which at that time was a savannah covered with pine trees.

Towards 1699, they begin to build muddy and guano huts and the first rustic parish where the parishioners congregate on Sundays.

At that time, there were many floodwaters of the Guamá River, which dragged brave the fragile houses and forced the neighbors to move there. They say that nothing remained of those simple houses nor of the primordial church and cemetery; but by the nineteenth century, there were stable settlers in this area, among them, French, given to build car wheels and other inventions.

In the evening, they took their seats outside and sat together to share the cool breeze and tell stories of their land. And the people, called this public space, Park of the French.

Several neighbors had the idea of putting banks with the names of their families inscribed on the logs, in case some stranger seemed to sit down.

The place was then called Concordia Park, where Spanish, Cuban and French met there, ready to fraternize after the bloody war of 1895. The inhabitants proposed – and the City Council took it by agreement – to erect three monuments: one dedicated to José Julián Martí Pérez, another inspired by the French writer Víctor Hugo and one more, in honor of the Spanish patrician Práxedes Mateo Sagasta. The last two never came to fruition.

On February 23, 1931, when President Gerardo Machado inaugurated the section of the Central Highway belonging to Pinar del Río, the statue of the national hero of Cuba, formerly located on Paseo Estrada Palma, was moved to this park. The new location offered better prospects for being at the entrance of the City. Very similar to the apostle’s statue in Parque Marti in Cienfuegos.

The monument to Marti was sculpted by the Italian artist Hector Salvatori in his native province of Genoa. It cost 12,000 pesos, it is of genuine Carrara marble and is among the best pieces inspired by the apostle of all those treasured in Cuba.

It is a Marti reaching out to those who enter the city; the other arm rests on books.

Recently and as part of the activities for the 150 anniversary of the granting of the title of city to Pinar del Río, reconstructive actions were undertaken in the José Martí Park

The monument is impeccably restored. All the missing letters were restored respecting the text of the time. There was a meticulous work in the steps, in the adornment elements. At this moment, it is only missing the original shield lost in the 90s.

A bank was built in the front area that simulates the sinuous passage of the river, with excellent incorporation of modern floors and street lamps, where Martian phrases linked to love and nature are read.

by:  Susana Rodriguez Ortega