Nicknamed the “Pearl of the South”, the city of Cienfuegos on the southern coast of Central Cuba boasts a beautiful bay and some picture-perfect architecture. The centre of Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to some spectacular old colonial buildings. Some of the most notable examples are situated around the central square, Parque Marti, including the Tomás Terry Theatre, the Catedral de la Purisima Concepción and the Provincial Museum.
The Tomás Terry Theatre is named after the super-rich 19th century sugar baron, slave trader and mayor Tomás Terry. Built in the late 1880s and brilliantly preserved, when you step inside, it feels as though you’re stepping back in time. The theatre is incredibly beautiful with a fabulous painted ceiling and I was taken by how different the seats are compared to the theatres in the UK. Instead of cramped velvet seats, the circular auditorium features rows of wooden seats and its walls are lined with boxes of wooden seats. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to take in a performance at the theatre, but it was such an elegant and refined setting that I would have loved to have been able to do so.
The Provincial Museum (above), meanwhile, is a curious little place. The charming museum (it’s displays are all in Spanish) attempts to convey the history and culture of Cienfuegos. It has only a few small galleries but each one varies wildly – the ground floor is filled with archaeological and evolutionary artefacts, including an ancient human skeleton that was found in Cuba, while the first floor displays modern art, as well as artefacts from the 19th and 20th centuries.