Sancti Spíritus (pop. 100,000), 390 kilometers east of Havana , is a modern city laid out around a colonial core on a rise above the Río Yayabo. It straddles the Carretera Central, midway between Havana and Santiago.
The settlement of Espíritu Santo was founded in 1514 by Diego Velázquez and Fernández de Cordoba, who conquered the Yucatán. The city began life about six kilometers from its current position but was moved eight years later.
The city prospered from cattle ranching and sugar. Its prominence attracted pirates, and during the late 16th and early 17th centuries it was twice ransacked and razed.
In 1895, Winston Churchill arrived in Sancti Spíritus. He loved the cigars but thought the city “a very second-rate place, and a most unhealthy place” (an epidemic of yellow fever and smallpox was raging).
It has improved vastly since Churchill passed through. Quaint cobbled streets and venerable houses with iron filigree and wide doors for carriages attest to the city’s antiquity, aided by a restoration of much of the central core.
The Terminal Provincial de Ómnibus (tel. 041/32-4142) is at the junction of Bartolomé Masó and the circunvalación, east of town. Víazul (tel. 041/32-4142) buses traveling Havana , Varadero, and Trinidad  to/from Santiago de Cuba stop in Sancti Spíritus.
Local buses and camiones serve nearby towns from the Terminal Municipal (Calle Sánchez and Carlos Roloff, tel. 041/22162), one block south of Avenida de los Mártires.
The train station (Av. Jesús Menéndez, esq. 26 de Julio, tel. 041/32-9228, or 32-7914 express trains) is 400 meters southwest of Puente Yayabo (ticket office open daily 8 a.m.–4 p.m., until 9 p.m. when there are departures). There is service from Havana  every second day at 7:40 p.m. (CUC13.50) and to Havana from Sancti Spíritus at 7:40 p.m., stopping in Santa Clara  (CUC3.50). A train to/from Cienfuegos  was not operating at last visit.
Trains traveling between Havana and Santiago de Cuba stop at Guayos, 15 kilometers north of Sancti Spíritus. You should be in the front carriage of the train to alight at Guayos; taxis are available to Sancti Spíritus. If departing Sancti Spíritus to catch the especial you should buy your ticket at the rail station before departing for Guayos.