A mix of characterful wooden houses, dishevelled Art Deco beauties and rather more anonymous concrete buildings, the sleepy town of BANES lies 31km southeast of Guardalavaca. Refreshingly untouristy, it’s known for its museum of pre-Columbian artefacts and for its association with the two titans of twentieth-century Cuban history – Fidel Castro and Fulgencio Batista.
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Things to do in Banes
Banes, being a haven in historical artefacts, is a dream for those who love history. It's Indocuban Baru Museum is home to objects from the Taino people including the infamous 10-carat gold figure of Atabey, the Tainos peoples Goddess of fresh water and fertility. Nearby in Guardalavaca, you can see a reconstructed village, similar to those of the Taino people in Aldea Taina.
For impressive architecture, check out Faro de Lucrecia Lighthouse and Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Caridad, the exotically built church.
Banes has paradise-like beaches and idyllic street corners that make roaming around the town and enjoying the atmosphere quite pleasant, if you wish to take a step back from the busier cities in Cuba then Banes might be the place for you. You can wonder and see the old US-style homes from when United Fruit had their factory here and a large portion of the city until the 1950s.
History of Banes
Banes is deemed the archaeological capital of Cuba for its well-preserved history of the former indigenous Taino people. The Tainos, originally from South America who settled in Cuba somewhere around the 400 BC mark were farmers, weavers, ceramicists and boat-builders who had a complex and government-like system, deemed remarkable for their time period. The local chiefs, known as caciques, were responsible for organising their people. The Tainos pre-date pre-Columbian history by roughly 8,000 years and were the first on the island to welcome Christopher Columbus, who described the people as 'sweet', 'generous' and 'gentle' - which makes it all the more saddening that they were eventually sold as slaves on gold mines and colonial plantations, and ultimately wiped out during European Colonisation.
More recent history in Banes brings us to Cuba's elected president-turned dictator, Fulgencio Batista, who was born here in 1901. Fidel Castro, who led the Cuban revolution against Batista, married his first wife in the towns local church.
Featured Image, Rock Paintings in Banes © Aleksandr Rybalko / Shutterstock