Cuba // Santiago de Cuba and Granma //

Parque Nacional de Demajagua

Twenty kilometres south of Manzanillo, the Parque Nacional de Demajagua is a pleasant place to while away an hour or two. It was from here that Carlos Manuel de Céspedes set out to win Cuban independence from Spain, and with splendid views over the bay and the cane fields, the one-time sugar plantation is a picture of serenity.

The small building housing the museum was built in 1968 (the centenary of the uprising), the original plantation having been completely destroyed by shells from a Spanish gunboat on October 17, 1868. The museum itself is depressingly sparse, with a brief history of the plantation forming the main part. The highlight is the first Cuban flag ever made, hand-sewn by Céspedes’ mistress. The grounds, while not extensive, are a nice spot to relax – look out for the Demajagua bell, built into a dry-stone wall on the far side of the lawn, with which Céspedes summoned his slaves to freedom.

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