Just over 40km northeast of Santa Clara and less than 10km from the coast, the town of REMEDIOS sits unobtrusively near the beach resort on the northern cays, and remains comparatively unexploited. The faded paintwork and terracotta roofs of the generally modest, still-lived-in colonial buildings, as well as the noticeable absence of modern constructions around the centre, reflect a town that lived on the periphery of modern Cuba until relatively recently. Remedios has now established its place on the visitor map, and is commonly used by tourists as a base for or a stopoff on the way to the nearby beach resort on the cays. On (or within shouting distance) of the central Plaza Martí, the town’s modest sights provide no more than a few hours of sightseeing, but its superb and reasonably priced hotels, appealing and abundant casas particulares and friendly atmosphere make it well worth a stopover. This sleepy place does, however, explode into live every Christmas when Las Parrandas, the festival for which the town is best known among Cubans, takes place.
One of the oldest towns in Cuba, founded shortly after the establishment of the seven villas, Remedios has a history rivalling that of Trinidad and Santa Clara, going back as far as the 1520s. Today’s provincial capital was, in fact, founded by citizens of Remedios who, following a series of pirate attacks towards the end of the sixteenth century, transplanted the settlement further inland. The local populace was far from united in its desire to desert Remedios, however, and in an attempt to force the issue, those who wanted to leave burnt the town to the ground. Rebuilt from the ashes, by 1696 the town had its own civic council and went on to produce not only one of Cuba’s most renowned composers, Alejandro García Caturla, but also a Spanish president, Dámaso Berenguer Fuste, who governed Spain in the 1930s.