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Baracoa

Trip Planner Caribbean  /  Cuba  /  Guantanamo Province  /  Baracoa
Baracoa is a municipality and city in Guantánamo Province near the eastern tip of Cuba. It was founded by the first governor of Cuba, the Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in August 15 of 1511. It is the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba and was its first capital (the basis for its nickname Ciudad Primada, "First City").GeographyBaracoa is located on the spot where Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba on his first voyage. It is thought that the name stems from the indigenous Arauaca language word meaning "the presence of the sea."Baracoa lies on the Bay of Honey (Bahía de Miel) and is surrounded by a wide mountain range (including the Sierra del Purial), which causes it to be quite isolated, apart from a single mountain road built in the 1960s.HistoryThe original inhabitants of the island were Taíno. They were eradicated by the Spanish all over Cuba except here and this is the only place where descendants still live. A local hero is Hatuey, who fled from the Spanish in Hispaniola and raised a Taíno army to fight the Spanish in Cuba. According to the story Hatuey was betrayed by a member of his group and sentenced to burn at the stake. It is said that just before he died a Catholic priest tried to convert him so he would attain salvation; Hatuey asked the priest if Heaven was the place where the dead Spanish go. When he received an answer in the affirmative he told the priest that he'd rather go to Hell.
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