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Our 500th birthday in Bayamo

bayamo 500 years

In 2013 we celebrated our 500th anniversary as a city. If you missed it, that’s a great shame, as it was spectacular but we’re still celebrating! The gala, entitled “Crisoles de 500 soles”, was considered one of the greatest events of the past 2 decades in Cuba. Over 700 artists gathered to decorate the city; many of these designs are still visible today, as we continue our homage to those 500 years of our city’s existence. The founding of the San Salvador Village over 500 years ago is an important part of Cuba’s history and also for anyone who lives in what we today call the New World of the United States and the whole Americas. The bedrock of the Americas resides in our city and we hope you’ll come to see us and feel the history.

500 anniversary Bayamo

When the Europeans arrived, Bayamo was a large Aboriginal community, and Spanish troops settled in Bayamo about a year and a half before the foundation of the San Salvador de Bayamo Village which was officially established in 1513. The village grew, its center forever shifting over time but, always maintaining a similar geographic location into, what we now call, just “Bayamo”

Bayamo Festivals and Carnivals

Las Enramadas Bayamo

Bayamo celebrates two very popular festivals where everyone is welcome. First we have Las Enramadas festival which dates back to the 1930s, and takes place during Holy Week, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. The streets of our city come alive with music and dancing; festivalgoer’s are offered the national pride of Bayamo and famous Cuban dish of roast pork with congrí (rice with black beans), root vegetables called Malanga and Yuca accompanied with salad, soft drinks, sweets, local beer and the powerful aguardiente spirit.

Carnival Bayamo Cuba

We then have our annual Carnival which is celebrated in August. During these four days, we the bayameses people and foreign visitors enjoy traditional city parades with colorful floats, fireworks, popular bands, dancing, daytime games and festivities for children, conga lines, and, of finally, our infamous carriage rides, with our buggies specially prepared with colorful ribbons and decorations throughout the whole Carnival time in Bayamo.

Getting around in Bayamo Cuba

Bayamo horse drawn carriages

Getting around in Bayamo can be fun, mainly because of our two traditions. Bayamese people love their bicycles and, more than any city in Cuba, you’ll see them moving from one place to another in droves. The next favorite modes of transport are our horse-drawn buggies or carriages, on which you can ride through the narrow streets and view some of the most important plazas and buildings in the city. Our buggies have special access cars are prohibited from using to places like the the house where Carlos Manuel de Céspedes was born; the colonial-era church known as Parroquial Mayor; the Plaza del Himno, the Cathedral, the Plaza de la Revolución, the main park and the Window of Luz Vázquez, a Cuban woman who inspired “La Bayamesa” song. Our carriages will also take you on a comprehensive tour of the city along with visits to some of the best private paladar restaurants in Bayamo.

Bayamo Cuba

The economy of Bayamo Cuba

Economy Bayamo Cuba

The economy of Bayamo is based on two fundamental areas; industry and agriculture. The city’s main products are sugar, construction materials, processed meats and over 100 varied dairy products. The Ice cream from Bayamo is known nationally as the best in Cuba, both for its quality and variety of flavors. This has earned Bayamo the nickname of the “ice cream capital” of Cuba. It is also famous for its varied cheeses and dulce de leche (milk toffee fudge). Amongst is local delicacies is the Fontana Cake, a type of sponge tart made with liqueur and butter and sold at the El Paso and La Cubana stores in the city.

Parish Church and Cathedral of San Salvador Bayamo

San Salvador Church Bayamo

The San Salvador de Bayamo Church, which was named a Cathedral in 1995, was inaugurated by diocesan Priest Alfonso Enrique de Armendáriz in the XVIII Century and it later evolved to become the beautiful three building church you see today. Picturesque colonial style brick walls, structured roofs and iron bars with splendid ornate carved Wood interior and golden pulpit, two choir areas and nine altars.

San salvador de Bayamo Iglesia

Archaeological studies on the San Salvador de Bayamo building corroborate the assumptions of the Vatican that the church is one of the first in Cuba. Located on the flank of the Plaza Del Himno and the same place where remains of an Aboriginal settlement were located in Bayamo, said to have been systematically destroyed by the Spanish upon arrival. Building on the church began in 1516 as a simple chapel with a few tables and a thin palm thatched roof. The first Mass was celebrated at this makeshift religious shrine in 1517. This early religious place was devastated by three earthquakes occurred in the years 1551, 1624 and 1766 .

Reconstruction began in 1916 and was finished in 1919. In 1954 the priests began to build classrooms for the teaching Catechism from the Catholic Church. A second building was annexed and a second floor area was built to provide housing and kitchen to the Church, these works were completed in 1957. In 1982 the church was completely restored to its current glory.

Every year a procession called the Virgen de los Dolores departs from the cathedral and is considered as one of the most beautiful cultural traditions in Bayamo.