Cuba // Trinidad and Sancti Spíritus //

Plaza Mayor

The beautiful Plaza Mayor is the heart of Trinidad’s colonial old town. Comprising four simple fenced-in gardens, each with a palm tree or two and dotted with various statuettes and other ornamental touches, it’s surrounded by painted colonial mansions, which are adorned with arches and balconies and home to and an art gallery. Plaza Mayor is a focal point for tourists rather than locals, but this vibrant, compact little square is a captivating place nevertheless.

The fabulous Museo Romántico is an essential part of Trinidad’s delve into the past. With one of the country’s finest and most valuable collections of colonial furniture packed into its fourteen rooms, there is no better place to go for a picture of aristocratic lifestyle and tastes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Cuba. Dating from 1808, the house itself – built for the very wealthy Brunet family – is a magnificent example of elegant nineteenth-century domestic Cuban architecture. Though the museum’s contents have been gathered together from various buildings all over town, there is a wonderful consistency and completeness to the collection, befitting the perfectly preserved and restored rooms.

Looking down on Plaza Mayor is the city’s main church, Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, also known as the Parroquial Mayor. Though there has been a church on this site since 1620, the structure now standing was officially finished in 1892. Among the pictures and paintings inside are a disproportionate number of impressively crafted altars, especially the neo-Gothic structure in the central nave, with its mass of pointed spires. Most of them were created by Amadeo Fiogere. A Dominican friar assigned to the church in 1912, he set about livening up the interior, drawing on his own personal fortune to donate many of the images on display today.

The Museo de Arquitectura Colonial exhibits the components that make up a typical colonial-era house in Trinidad, but the small collection of fixtures and fittings won’t keep you for long. The former residence of the Sánchez-Iznaga family – local aristocrats who made their fortune from sugar – the building was constructed in 1738 and then extended to its current size in 1785. Don’t leave before taking a look at the quirky-looking US-made Art Nouveau shower, dating from 1912. It’s in a block out the back, off a courtyard vibrantly bedecked with plants.

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