Photos of Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the South, Cuba

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Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the South

Cienfuegos, the capital of Cienfuegos Province, is a city of about 150,000 people on Bahía de Cienfuegos, a bay on the southern coast of Cuba about 250 kilometres from Havana. It is famous for its elegant colonial-era buildings and dubbed “La Perla del Sur” (Pearl of the South). Originally the area of Taíno indigenous people under their chief Jagua, it was settled on 22 April 1819 by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana. They were led by Don Louis de Clouet, who called it Fernandina de Jagua, in honour of the Spanish King Ferdinand VII and Chief Jagua.

On the Parque José Martí, Cienfuegos
Arco de Triunfo, Parque José Martí
Palacio de Gobierno, Cienfuegos
Parque José Martí from the east, Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos Cathedral
Colegio San Lorenzo, Cienfuegos
Teatro Tomás Terry, Cienfuegos
Parque José Martí from north, Cienfuegos
Exercises on Parque José Martí
View of Parque José Martí, Cienfuegos
Ceiling mural, Museo Provincial,
Ceiling murals, Museo Provincial,
Avenida 54, Cienfuegos
In the old city, Cienfuegos
Horsecarts, Cienfuegos
Street in Cienfuegos
Paseo del Prado, Cienfuegos
Horsecart, Cienfuegos
From Paseo El Prado to Cienfuegos
Hotel Palacio Azul, Cienfuegos
Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos
Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos
Gate to Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos
Park in La Punta, Cienfuegos

It became a town in 1829 and was renamed after José Cienfuegos, who was Captain-General of Cuba from 1816–1819; in 1880, it was called a city, and many of its streets had French names; as they do to this day. The central square in the old town is Parque José Martí, with its Arco de Triunfo, commemorating Cuban independence. The Tomás Terry Theatre has gold-leaf mosaics and ceiling frescoes. There is the Palacio de Gobierno and the Provincial Museum with its beautiful ceiling murals, exploring the city’s colonial history. In 2005, UNESCO inscribed the Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos on the World Heritage List, citing Cienfuegos as the best extant example of early 19th century Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning. There is no other place in the Caribbean with such a remarkable cluster of Neoclassical structures.

The Paseo del Prado leads along the Bahía de Cienfuegos to La Punta, the southernmost point of the city. Cienfuegos’ old upper-class neighbourhood has an elegant neo-classical water-front mansion, now Hotel Encanto Palacio Azul. Palacio de Valle, a Spanish-Moorish palace, now houses a seafood restaurant, historical exhibits, and a rooftop bar built in the early 20th Century. At the southernmost point is a park and a beach to relax.