Santa Clara, capital of the province of Villa Clara, is a mandatory stop during your trip to Cuba with Espíritu Travel, on your way through this region of central Cuba. The city was founded in 1689 by several families who are remembered in a monument located in the Plaza de la Iglesia del Carmen. Santa Clara is a city known for its historical role during the Cuban Revolution.
On every corner, at any hour, music plays on radios and TVs while some bands play in bars to attract customers. Facades and billboards display famous phrases from the leaders of the Cuban revolution. Welcome to Santa Clara, the city of Che.
Continue you want to discover what to do and see in Santa Clara.
Places you should visit in Santa Clara on your trip to Cuba
Before visiting Santa Clara, you should know that in one day you can comfortably visit the city. At Espíritu Travel we usually make a stop in Santa Clara on the way to other destinations, such as from Trinidad to Havana. Santa Clara can be explored on foot; it is a small and flat town. The farthest part of the Che Route is the Memorial.
Check out our Uncovering Cuba trip plan to see our recommended activities in Sant Clara.
Statue of Che with Child
During your visit to Santa Clara you will see numerous references to the Cuban Revolution and Che Guevara. This statue is located in front of the central office of the Communist Party and represents a life-size Che who receives those who enter through the central staircase, always with fresh flowers at his feet.
The artist Casto Solano said that his work reflected some of Che’s values and resignations. A motorcycle recalls the Argentine’s trip with Alberto Granados through South America, while a book in his pocket reveals his love for reading and the importance he placed on education. In his hair, a hammock takes us to Che’s time in the Sierra Maestra, far from the comfort of the family life that he could have led, and his companions murdered in Bolivia appear on his belt buckle.
The Wagon Museum
If you continue along Avenida Liberación for about 500 meters you will reach another of the most symbolic points of Santa Clara: Parque del Tren Blindado. In 1958, the dictator Batista sent soldiers on a train to the capital Havana, to fight the rebels. Che and his troops learned that the wagons would pass through the city of Santa Clara and they put together a plan to sabotage the train and thus prevent the government army from being strengthened in Havana.
You will be able to see the original wagons while your local guide explains to you how the train was derailed, and this event was a great victory in the Cuban Revolution. Inside the trains you can see some objects and images with historical content.
The Memorial is the main tourist attraction of Santa Clara. From the highway, you can already see the towering sculpture of Che, almost seven meters high. Located on the outskirts of the town, the large square was built in the 1980s to commemorate the decisive victory of the Argentine who, dressed in his military clothes, seems to watch everyone who passes.
On the great stone monolith, we can read the phrase “Hasta la Victoria Siempre” that Che used to say. The farewell letter that Che wrote to Castro can also be read in the bas-relief of a large block of stone decorated with historical moments of the Cuban Revolution.
Just below are the Museum and Mausoleum, where the remains of the Argentine revolutionary are found along with his companions also murdered in Bolivia. The museum collects the life of Che Guevara through personal objects, photographs, letters or his famous diaries.
The eternal flame lit by Fidel in October 1997, the day Che was received in Santa Clara, is at the back of the small space. A star-shaped beam of light illuminates Ernesto Guevara de la Serna’s niche.
The Café Revolución is located near the Parque Vida and the Toma del tren armado you should look closely as it is easy to pass it by. Upon entering the place, you will be impressed by its decoration and all the articles related to the Revolution.
Antique furniture divides the space with photographs, flags and objects of Fidel Castro or Che Guevara among other important figures of the Revolution. I recommend you order the Russian Coffee, after your guided tour through the streets of Santa Clara you will appreciate an iced coffee served with a scoop of ice cream on top.
Loma del Capiro
It is the best place to contemplate Santa Clara from above and that is why it was used as an observation point by Che’s troops during the Battle of Santa Clara. In the center, you will find two huge flags: one from Cuba and the other from the July 26 Movement.
Leoncio Vidal Square
The best place without a doubt to meet the locals. A place full of history as witnessed by the bullets in some of the buildings that surround it. Located in the historic center, in the old Plaza de Armas, young and old meet today to chat, listen to music or enjoy a mani cone.
Cathedral of Santa Clara de Asís
It was built in 1923 after demolishing the original one located in Plaza Vidal. It stands out for its collection of stained-glass windows and its two towers reminiscent of those of Notre Dame de Paris. The curious red details on the columns simulate a pink marble cladding that gives an original touch to the facade.
Without a doubt, the best way to discover Santa Clara is by visiting it accompanied by one of Espíritu Travel’s expert guides who will guide you through its streets, telling you the secrets hidden in every corner of the city. Santa Clara is a highly recommended city to get to know Cuba from a different angle. Without all the tourists, you can have a little chat in Plaza Vidal with the locals, is something unique that you will experience on your customize trip to Cuba.