Holguín, Cuba, is both a province and a city in the east of Cuba, about nine hundred kilometers from the capital Havana. This is a destination for those intrepid travelers that want to get off the beaten track and see the "real" Cuba.
Although San Isidoro de Holguin (the city's full name), is the fourth-largest city in the country, independent tourism is still in its infancy here. Those that make the effort to get here will find a pleasant little city with plazas and parks and plenty of green spaces. Parques Peralta, Calixto Garcia, Cespedes, and the Plaza de la Marqueta are the places to head for.
Notable buildings include the Museo de Historia Provincial, which was built in the mid-nineteenth century, and sits on the northern side of Parque Calixto Garcia. On the eastern side of Parque Peralta, looms the white Catedral de San Isidoro built in the early sixteenth century. The nineteenth century Iglesia de San Jose dominates Parque Cespedes, which is also home to a monument honoring the heroes of the War of Independence of the late nineteenth century.
At the northern end of Calle Maceo, visitors will find a stairway built in the mid-twentieth century, with four hundred sixty-five steps ascending a two-hundred-seventy-five-meter-high hill with panoramic views -- La Loma de la Cruz. A cross was raised here in the late eighteenth century in hope of relieving a drought, and every May Third, devotees climb to the summit where a special Mass is held.
A slightly unusual attraction is the Fabrica de Organos, which builds mechanical organs as well as other musical instruments. Holguin has a number of organ groups, one of which visitors may catch performing in Parque Cespedes on Thursday afternoons or Sunday mornings.
There are hotels and a few casa particulares (family guesthouses) in Holguin; as in Cuba on the whole, many of them are known as Holguín, Cuba hostels or hostals. Although they are the cheapest form of accommodation, it does not mean that they have backpacker hostel dorm beds. The nearest dorm bed hostel to Holguin is found one hundred fifty kilometers southeast of the city in Santiago de Cuba. This may change in the near future, as Cuba is encouraging independent travelers now, so keep your eyes open as inevitably there will be backpacker hostels in Holguín, Cuba, opening before too long, as in other parts of the country.
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