Santiago de Cuba & its Churches

Friday, 29 April 2016

Wearing my Global Heritage Fund archaeological hat once again – as I did when I visited the National School of Arts in Havana – I looked at a number of churches in Santiago de Cuba with Stefaan Portmaan (GHF’s Executive Director) and archaeologist Santiago Giraldo (GHF’s Heritage Director for Colombia).

For 35 years the Catholic church in Cuba has been unable to do any renovations, restorations or even basic maintenance. That ban has been lifted, but there are a lot of decaying church requiring love and attention. In its Spanish heyday Santiago de Cuba was the centre for the church not only for Cuba, but also for Jamaica and Florida. Remarkably if you want to check the construction plans and architectural drawing for these old churches – some of them dating back nearly 500 years – they’re all still on file in Seville in Spain. The Spanish Empire lives!

IMG_6213 - Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción - 540▲ The magnificent Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción on Parque Céspedes, the main square of the city, has already been magnificently restored, both outside …

IMG_6240 - Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción - 540IMG_6254  - Iglesia de San Francisco - 270▲ … and inside.


◄ The story at other church isn’t so happy. The city’s second biggest church, the Iglesia de San Francisco, doesn’t look so bad inside at first glance, but the interior is semi-derelict and over-run by pigeons coming in through holes in the roof. ‘I know I should love all God’s creatures,’ the caretaker mused. ‘But I’d really love to have a pellet gun.’


▼ Outside the picture is certainly not so pretty.IMG_6262  - Iglesia de San Francisco - 540

IMG_6295 - sunset cañonazo at Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro - 540▲ We did some other sightseeing in Santiago de Cuba, catching the sunset cañonazo (cannon firing) at Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro on the coast. And, of course, music at the rooftop bar of the Casa Granda Hotel.