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|Cienfuegos is found on the Caribbean coast in the south central part of Cuba. Its deep bay was converted into one of the main ports of the island during the colonial era. During the 1740s, the Jagua Castle was erected on the bay to protect the port from pirates. Today, the area is an important producer of sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee.
Without doubt, its principal attraction is the provincial capital, also named Cienfuegos; it is the only city founded by French colonists who came from Bordeaux in France, and Philadelphia and Louisiana in the States. The city’s foundation is attributed to Don Louis D´Clouet and dates from April 22 1819 when it was awarded the name Fernandina de Jagua. In 1829, it was granted town status, and in 1880, city status.
The region is known as the Pearl of the South or the beautiful city by the sea; and one of the city’s most illustrious sons, the distinguished son singer Benny Moré defined Cienfuegos with pride in one of his songs as “the city that I like the most.”
These epithets do justice to the beauty of a city sat right next to the calm Jagua Bay, and whose city layout with its straight streets, its combination of cultural and historic values and architectural features in the city centre (declared a National Monument), attract the eye of the discerning visitor.
The original city center developed in colonial style and was divided by a Plaza de Armas (today the José Martí Park), around which they drew up the first 25 blocks of the city and erected the most important government, religious and domestic buildings.
Punta Gorda, a thin finger of land that juts out in the bay of Cienfuegos, forms a distinctive part of the city. At the beginning of the 20th century the area was the home to aristocrats who built beautiful homes and villas in Art Nouveau style. Here you’ll find the Palacio de Valle, a former casino (today a restaurant), one of the main attractions of Punta Gorda. With arched windows, tiles and Moorish details found everywhere, it appears to be like a palace from the Middle East. On the rooftop terrace you can enjoy cocktails and one of the best views of the region.
At the same time, the Malecón (seaside promenade), bordered with palms, connects the two parts of the city.