de Cuba was founded by Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
on June 28, 1514. In 1516 the settlement was destroyed by fire, and
was immediately rebuilt. This was the starting point of the
expeditions led by Juan de Grijalba and Hernán Cortés to the coasts of
Mexico in 1518, and in 1538 by Hernando de Soto's expedition to
Florida. The first cathedral was built in the city in 1528. From 1522
until 1589 Santiago was the capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba.
The city was plundered by French
forces in 1553, and by British forces under Christopher Myngs in 1662.
city experienced an influx of French immigrants in the late 18th
century and early 19th century, many coming from Haiti after the
Haitian slave revolt of 1791. This added to the city's eclectic
cultural mix, already rich with Spanish and African culture.
It was also the location where
Spanish troops faced their main defeat at San Juan Hill on July 1,
1898, during the Spanish-American War. Spain later surrendered to the
United States after the destruction of its Atlantic fleet just outside
Cuban poet, writer, and national
hero, José Martí, is buried in Cementerio Santa Efigenia.
Role in the Cuban Revolution.
Santiago was also the home of the
revolutionary hero, Frank Pais. On July 26, 1953, the Cuban Revolution
began with an ill-prepared armed attack on the Moncada Barracks by
small contingent of rebels led by Fidel Castro. Shortly after this
disastrous incident, País began talking with students and young
working people informally, drawing around him what became an extremely
effective urban revolutionary alliance. This developed into highly
organized cells coordinating a large scale urban resistance that
became instrumental in the success of the Cuban Revolution.
País' group prepared carefully, accruing weapons, collecting money,
collecting medical supplies. They published a cheap newsletter that
reported news that criticized the government, attempting to counter
In the summer of 1955, País’
organization merged with Castro's July 26 Movement. País became the
leader of the new organization in Oriente province.
January 1959, Fidel Castro proclaimed the victory of the Cuban
Revolution from a balcony on Santiago de Cuba's city hall.
Change in province boundaries.
Until a rearrangement of province
boundaries in 1976, Santiago de Cuba was the capital of Cuba's Oriente
Province, which included the present day provinces of Holguín, Las
Tunas, Guantánamo, Granma and Santiago de Cuba.
World Heritage Site.
local citadel of San Pedro de la Roca is inscribed on the UNESCO World
Heritage List as "the most complete, best-preserved example of
Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and
Renaissance design principles".
World Heritage Biosphere Reserve.
The Baconao Park was inscribed on the
UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve List in 1987.
Some links on Cuba's