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When visiting Santa Clara we will have the opportunity to know its fantastic history. However, it is better see it by our own eyes. The Church of Carmen is one of those places that can tell us something of the past and the present of this place.

A bit of history. According to Santa Clara people, the settlers with the purpose of remembering the foundation of the town Santa Clara established the Church of Our Lady of Carmen. One hundred seventy five people founded the village on July 15, 1689 at a mass under a tamarind tree. Since then, the place was known as “Loma Del Carmen”. In 1744, a church was built near the tree to commemorate the event.

It is interesting to know that at least two hermitages have existed here. The first one was a modest construction of wood and thatched roof, characteristic of the time. It was placed next to the foundation and it was opened to the cult on July 29, 1745. The current hermitage is located in the center of the park and summarizes in its architectural structure elements from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Over the years a tamarind tree was planted on the south side of the church that marks the place where the city was born and around it a monument to remember such an important event. The names that we see inscribed in each of the 18 columns correspond to the representatives of the 18 founding families.

Around the parish, we will find other elements of historical value. A few meters from the temple are raised busts, monuments and stripes of important events. Among them, we will see the one dedicated to Captain Roberto Rodríguez, known as El Vaquerito. He was a valiant commander of Che´s guerrilla who fell in combat during the capture of the barracks located in a corner of this park.

Church of Carmen keeps active today. The church organizes various pastoral activities, focused on spreading Christian values. Some of these actions include the training of adolescents and young people, material and spiritual assistance to prisoners and their families, distribution of breakfast and food, work with older people interested in taking care of themselves productively, among others. There is also a group of Alcoholics Anonymous and a performing arts company.

Considered a National Monument, majestic despite time and witness of local and national history, the Church of Carmen is a symbol of identity of the Santa Clara city.

For visit: At parque del Carmen, Santa Clara (“22.41141, -79.96712”). Free accees daily.

by: Alberto Gonzalez & Leunam Rodríguez