Trinidad (pop. 38,000), the crown jewel of Cuba’s colonial cities, is 67 kilometers southwest of Sancti Spíritus and 80 kilometers east of Cienfuegos. It was the fourth of the seven cities founded by Diego de Velázquez in 1514. No other city in Cuba is so well preserved or so charming.
The entire city is a national monument lent charms by its historical landmarks and its setting of great natural beauty, sitting astride a hill, where it catches the breezes and gazes out over the Caribbean against a backdrop of verdurous Sierra Escambray.
Its narrow, unmarked cobbled streets are paved with stones (chinas pelonas) shipped across the Atlantic as ballast or taken from the nearby river. The maze of streets is lined with terra-cotta tile-roofed houses in soft pastel colors. Much of the architecture is neoclassical and baroque, with a Moorish flavor.
However, there are no great palaces as in Havana. The exquisite buildings are fronted by mahogany balustrades and massive wooden doors with postigos that open to let the breezes flow through cool, tile-floored rooms connected by double-swing half-doors (mamparas) topped by vitrales.
Mule-drawn carts and cowboys on horseback clip-clop through the cobbled streets. Old folks rock gently beneath shady verandas, serenaded by twittering songbirds in bamboo cages—a Trinidad tradition. At night the town is eerily still. Then the cool air flows downhill, the narrow alleys become refreshing channels, and it’s a special joy to stroll the traffic-free streets that make the town feel even more adrift from the 20th century.
Trinidad is steeped in santería and Catholicism. Easter and Christmas are good times to visit.
Getting to Trinidad
By Air: The Aeropuerto Alberto Delgado (tel. 041/99-6393) is one kilometer south of town, off Paseo Agramonte. No scheduled air service was offered at last visit.
By Bus: Buses arrive and depart the Terminal de Ómnibus (Izquierda, esq. Piro Guinart, tel. 041/99-6676). Víazul buses (tel. 0419/4448, ticket office daily 7 a.m.–7 p.m.) buses to Trinidad depart Havana at 8:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. (CUC27), and Santiago de Cuba at 7:30 p.m. (CUC20).
Transtur offers bus transfers between Trinidad and Cienfuegos (CUC6) and Havana (CUC25).
By Train: The train station (tel. 041/99-3348, ticket booth open daily 4:30 a.m.–5 p.m.) is at the bottom of Lino Pérez. The only service at last visit was a daily commuter train to Casilda and to Meyer, in the Valle de los Ingenios.
By Car: For car rental, try Cubacar (Lino Pérez, e/ Martí y Francisco Cadalia, tel. 041/99-6633; and Bolívar, esq. Maceo, tel. 041/99-6257); Gaviota (tel. 041/99-6235), which offers house-to-house taxi service between Havana and Trinidad (about CUC110); or Vía (Frank País e/ Fidel Claro and Bolívar, tel. 041/99-6388).
The Oro Negro gas station is northeast of town on Fausto Pelayo. A Cupet gas station is one kilometer south of Trinidad on the road to Casilda.
You can park at Casa López-Santander (CUC2 per night) and at the public parking on Vicente Suyama, esq. Girón.
Excursions: Cubatur (Maceo y Zerquera, tel. 041/99-6314) and Cubanacán (Martí, e/ Lino Pérez y Codahia, tel. 041/99-4753) offer excursions, including a city tour (CUC15), steam train ride (CUC10), and to Valle de los Ingenios (CUC25).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition