Ciego de Avila

Ciego de Avila was founded in 1840 on the site of an hacienda granted to Alonso de Avila, one of Velázquez' commanders, and consequently is short of fine historical architecture and monuments although there are plenty of columns, portals and tiles to decorate the 19th-century buildings. It is an agricultural market town with a large thermal electricity plant. The main road from Havana to Camagüey and Santiago passes straight through the middle of town; most people just keep going. The Province of Ciego de Avila is most often visited for the beach resorts off its northern coast. The islands of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, which make up part of a 400-km coral reef, have excellent deep sea fishing, diving and snorkelling. Many new luxury hotels have opened for package tourism but they are very remote and isolated from the rest of Cuba. Scuba-divers also rate highly the cays off the south coast that make up the western half of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago. Dive packages must be organized in advance but the unspoilt underwater environment makes the effort well worthwhile. Elsewhere in the province, birdwatching in the countryside is good, with 234 species, of which 18 are endemic, game shooting is organized and there is some freshwater fishing.

Ins and outs

Getting there

The airport 24 km north of Ciego de Avila was closed in 2009. The international airport on Cayo Coco is convenient if that is your destination, saving a long bus ride out to the cays. So far it is receiving scheduled international flights from Argentina, the UK and Canada, as well as domestic flights from Havana, and charter flights according to season and demand. The railway station is central and
trains
on the Havana to Santiago route stop here, but are unreliable and foreigners are often not allowed on.
Víazul
 buses
are more convenient, running from Havana to Santiago, Havana to Holguín, Varadero to Santiago and Trinidad to Santiago, several daily. However, if you break your journey here, make sure you have a reservation well in advance for the onward bus, as the long-distance buses are usually full when they go through town.

Getting around

Much of the city can be seen
on foot
, or you can use a bicitaxi
or
coche
for longer distances. For excursions out of the city,
car hire
is the most convenient, or you can hire a state or private taxi to take you around, or take a tour.

Tourist information

The hotels have
burós de turismo
which can give information, although their main purpose is to sell tours. These can be convenient if you do not have a car.
Infotur
has an office in the international airport in Cayo Coco and another in Ciego de Avila beneath the Edificio de 12 plantas, Honorato del Castillo esq Libertad, www.infotur.cu. Maps and phone cards are for sale while information and leaflets are free.

Sights

The main square is the
Parque Martí
, with a statue of José Martí dating from 1925 in the centre. On the south side are the church,
Iglesia de San Eugenio de la Palma
, patron saint of the city, and the former town hall,
Ayuntamiento
, built in 1911, and now the municipal government headquarters. The
Teatro Principal
, built in 1927, is considered one of the best in the island for its acoustics and is an
interesting eclectic style. Also on Parque Martí is the
Museo de Artes Decorativas
. Dating from 1930, when it was opened as the Liceo society, it now showcases Cuban and foreign furniture, china, porcelain, silver, marble and ivory from the 19th and 20th centuries. For an insight into local artists, visit the
Galería del Consejo Provincial de las Artes Plásticas
. The
Museo Provincial Simón Reyes
,
is in a restored building that was formerly the seat of the Spanish Army Command during the War of Independence and contains many items of local historical significance. At the place where the city was founded, Marcial Gómez y Joaquín de Agüero, there is a 19th century
Mapa Mural
, depicting the first 25 blocks of the rising town. It shows the Spanish command headquarters and some of the forts that were part of the Júcaro to Morón military line. Calle Independencia, from Honorato del Castillo to José María Agramonte, is now pedestrian and known as the Boulevard. As in many other Cuban cities, it is the focus of regeneration and beautification in the city, with statues, benches and decorative plants along the busy commercial street.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
Products in this Region

Cuba Handbook

From its ramshackle mansions and retro motors to stunning white beaches and fine cigars, Cuba's...

Havana Handbook

Of all the capital cities in the Caribbean, Havana has the reputation for being the most splendid &...
PDF Downloads

  No PDFs currently available

Digital Products

Available NOW!
Read more...