Just over 40km northeast of Santa Clara and less than 10km from the coast, the town of REMEDIOS is one of the oldest and most attractive small towns in Cuba. Sitting within such perfect day-trip distance of the provincial capital and the burgeoning beach resort on the northern cays, it has enjoyed significant levels of investment in recent years, particularly in the build-up to the five-hundredth anniversary of its foundation in 2015. As a result, it now sparkles with a whole host of freshly painted buildings, several exquisite new hotels and a large, very sociable, spruced-up central garden square, Plaza Martí, awash with the town’s new colours, the pastel blues, pinks, oranges and yellows of the surrounding porticoed edifices and, uniquely in Cuba, two churches.
Somehow, despite the high number of visitors, Remedios still feels unspoilt, partly because the town lived on the periphery of modern Cuba until relatively recently – a fact reflected in the faded paintwork of the still-lived-in colonial buildings beyond the centre, as well as the noticeable absence of modern constructions – but perhaps also because there really isn’t very much to do here. The town’s modest museums provide no more than a couple of hours of sightseeing, and you’ll get the most out of the place simply by sitting at one of a number of bars and restaurants around the square and taking it easy. This subdued place does, however, explode into life 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 original seven villas, Remedios has a history rivalling that of Trinidad and Santa Clara, going back as far as the 1520s. Today’s provincial capital, Santa Clara, 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.