Remedios is a beautiful quiet little colonial town and absolutely worth a visit
Close to Santa Clara is the municipality of Remedios, eighth village founded by the Spanish in 1578. In this place, declared a National Monument genuine colonial works that contain relics such as the Parroquia Mayor, the Buen Viaje church, the House of Las Arcadas, that of the Alférez Real and the birthplace of Alejandro García Caturla, today the Museum of Music. As part of the most ancient cultural traditions of the region, the world famous Parrandas de Remedio (Revels of the city of Remedios) stand out a yearly event every December 24.
The city of Remedios was one of the first villages founded by Spanish colonizers in the XVI century. Its foundation took place on May 3, 1513, but in the beginning it was a private property of Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa, a Spanish conqueror Captain and a man with enough influence in court and among the main representatives of the monorchy in America, to give himself the prerogative to make of that small village and the surrounding areas, his private lands, with no government, untill a few years later when its first district council was formed, becoming the eighth Cuban village from then on, in spite of being established before some the seven others.
Because of illegal smugglers and other pirates from the sea locals move more inland and thats where Santa Clara was founded. Other stories tell a priest, José Gonzalez, told the people if when they would stay in Remedios they would sink into Satan's world since, he said, this was located under the caves of Boceron A La Cabaña.
During the second half of the 18th century the economy increased because of the sugar industry and the first trains came into this area.
War of independence
The outbreak of the war of 1868 in the jurisdiction Remedios occurred on 14 February 1869, led by Carlos Roloff and Salome Hernandez, seconded by young independence as Francisco Carrillo, Pedro Díaz Molina, Jesus Crespo, Serafin Garcia, among others. The war of 1868 in Remedios, was among the Oligarqiua Criolla are essentially counter to see their interests affected class booming sugar for this date. Derived from this is that the Spanish government Remedios became an important military garrison. Activation and Fire Volunteer Corps paramilitary force was decisive as supporting fundamentalism. From that date the title of city data in 1874, as political prerogative for their loyalty to the crown. This led to were written beautiful pages of heroism and bravery as commander of Jesus Crespo Moreno, prominent in making military forts (such as Tetouan).
The Liberty Statue of Remedios
The Statue of Liberty is considered the most expensive gift in history. It was donated in 1886 by the French people to the American one, as an homage to the centenary of the United States independency.
Next to José Martí Park is the Monument to the Martyrs of San Juan de los Remedios, where since 1906 straightens upright the unique replica in Cuba of Lady Liberty, as it’s also known the emblematic New Yorker statue. The copy, constructed in marble from the quarry of Carrara, in Italy, was made by the sculptor Carlos Nicoly Manfredy.
Ponche de la Parroquia
Local Remedios Cocktail
To prepare the local cocktail of Remedios you need to mix:
- Orange leaves
- Caña santa
Legends of Remedios
Iglesia de la Virgin del Buen Viaje ... the legend
The legend says that in a gloomy rainy day in October 1600 about what the sailors called the Cordonaso San Francisco, a fisherman came remedying fishing with two friends early in the morning in a fragile vessel to the Tesic Bay, a place outside town in 1832. Offshore fishermen were caught in a storm. They were preparing to return in a hurry when they spotted amid the waves, drifting, a wooden box five feet long which powerfully struck, to the point that despite the urgency decided to pick it up, not without little effort and danger of sinking into the dark waters.
Imagine the surprise when they opened it and found a beautiful image of the Virgin Mary carved in wood.
"We have done a good trip, good trip," "yes good trip," repeated the other two.
They agreed to name it since then Buenviaje
The fishermen arrived Remedios town through nowadays Calle Rio which at that days was a river. At the corner lived a black man and the fishermen decided to give the virgen to this man. The next day the priest of town came at the blac mans house and told him the virgen belongs to the church and moved the wooden carved statue to Iglesia Mayor.
When at the next morning the priest looked at the spot where he placed the statue it was gone ... he surprisingly found it at the black man's house, the virgin returned by herself to the house the fishermen left her in first place.
They decided to build a second church in this place where ones was the black mans house, because the people said, The Virgen had choosen her own spot in town to live. Since that time Remedios is the only town in Cuba who has two churches at the same Plaza.
Remedios is a town of many legends.
In the middle of town, at one of the corners of Plaza Central, six images of the Remedios legends are shown.
Below two of these images and their legend
Casa El Paloma
Some centuries Augusto de Fisné Miranda form France started a chocolat store (chocolateria) in Remedios. He married a beautiful Cuban girl from Remedios who could play the piano very well and Augusto wanted her to keep on playing all the time he was around the house. One day the Cubana died from suffering malaria and Augusto a few months after because of grief missing the music. The house became a ruïn and since that time two white doves are always in the house and some times you can still hear the piano playing.
La Leyenda de El Guise
A few kilometers from Remedios town was a pond named La Bajada, in this pond lived a kind of troll named El Guise who, at night time when it was dark, ate all plants of the farmers in that area. The farmers went to the priest and asked him to find a solution to kill El Guise. The priest searched in his papers and found a writing which explained the way to do this. They had to finf 7 men named Juan who had to be spotless in heart and soul and never have had sex, holy water, oxes and a chart, a cross, chains, ropes and food to get El Guise out of the pond.
They succeed and brought El Guise in chains to the priest, the only thing left to kill El Guise was the priest has to say a holy spell. When this happened El Guise became very angry and released itself from the chains, run away back into the pond and nobody ever saw him again.
Excursions, Tours & Events
Las Parandas de Remedios
In the early nineteenth century Remedios was divided into eight neighborhoods: Buen Viaje, Camaco, La Laguna, San Salvador, LA Bermeja, La Parroquia, El Cristo y El Carmen. There were, besides the main church and Buen Viaje, two shrines: San Salvador and El Cristo. In those years it took place during Christmas on the cold mornings from 16 to 24 December a mass call "Aguinaldo," culminating with "Del Gallo" at 12 pm on 24. Of course, lots of people had difficulties to sleep in this noise, It was then that Francisquito, a young priest who officiated at the villa, got the idea of producing in the morning all the noise possible.
With that goal he met a group of boys from ten to fifteen years, and armed them with the most varied instruments and began the uproar noisy night. We do not know for sure if it had a religious purpose, but we can say that it stimulated the existing neighborhoods, since then, year after year, armed with noisemakers, jaws, whistles, guiras, fotutos, and other instruments they go through the village to wake up the neighborhood in the winter nights at December 24. It began one of Remedios' most beautiful traditions: La Parrandas Remedios. This "infernal orchestra," as scheduled at that time, became a tradition, and during the big boys of the neighborhood came out to waking up to the people. The practice continued well until 1850, when it happens the first division to the districts of La Laguna, Buen Viaje, Camac and San Salvador, are called generically under the name of the last (San Salvador), and just happened to El Carmen, La Parroquia , El Christo and La Bermeja, who gave them the name of Carmen though each, in spite of the division, retained its name of El Carmen, these two groups were led by Mrs. Rita Rueda (San Salvador) and Mrs. Chana Peña (El Carmen), and each had a chorus of singers and players of guitar, mandolin, harp, drum, jawbone of a horse, and drum key. There was even competition between them, then went out with the sole purpose of encouraging the people.
It was in 1871 when two Spanish, one Asturian and other Mayorquín, binge gave the character who currently own: Christopher Matthew Gili (The Mayorquin) led the hosts Carmelites and Jose Ramon Celorio Weight commanded to San Salvador.
They began to walk with curious paper lanterns made with China in various colors and competed in steepening Colonels (species of moths) in the sunny days of partying. And the music polkas composed beautiful hymns like each neighborhood and the Remedios streets could hear the rattle of drums and cowbells, spokesmen for the holidays.
Years later in 1875, it turned into the parade Isabella II, towers, mills miniature triumphal arches and other works made by craftsmen who took advantage of the binge popular as a framework to showcase their creations. Also appear triumphal chariots, which were the embryo of the floats revelers. The dark, cold nights are lit Remedios not only by the chinoiserie lamps, but flares and huge fireworks. A very popular Cuban tradition
Remind, if you are intended to see this event, the whole toen is filled with thousands of people and it is hard to reserve an accommodation that night. But do not worry, the whole village is one big casa particular and lots of Cubans will be please to host your stay.
City Tour Remedios
Visit the eighth village founded by the Spaniards, in 1513
There is a preserved Historical Center declared National Monument. Churches to visit Nuestra Señora del Buen Viaje (The Good Trip Notre Dame) and Santa Bautista. The Cafetaria Louvre, where you can taste the local cocktail Ponche de la Parroquia (Parish Ponch); The Museum of Music Alejandro Garcia Caturla, the history and the Paranda's. It is the unique in the country to safeguard the memories of this authentic fest celebrated from the 19th century.
Tours and excursions can be arranged on location at the Artex store in the city center of Remedios. They have several professional guides and excursions available.
We did the personal guided tour around Remedios explaning of the city, its history and legends for 4 cuc
Review by Steve Tiveron
August 9 2012
ENJOY THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS AND SMELLS
If you ever find yourself in Villa Cara area, north coast you must visit Remedios. This very historical city has both old world architeture and old world charm. We have been to this area may times and one of my favourite things to do is visit Remedios city square where you will find the main bar where everyone takes a rest and has a cold beer after wondering the windy narrow streets. I love to wonder down street after street, each corner is like an adventure because you never know what you might find. If you are not one who likes to walk much then try one of the bike cabs, usually it will cost you a couple Peso but what a ride. The bike cab will show you important sites in the town, take you down some side streets and give you time to take some pictures, what an experience you'l have.
My partner and I usually stay in Cayo Coco which is about half hour away over the causeway. We normally stay at the Iberostar Ensenachos but we have stayed at pretty much all the Hotels on the small Island which only has roughly 8 resorts now. We love this area because it is quieter than Varadero and the oldest resort on this Island is 7 or 8 years old. We love the beaches at the Iberostar the best, there are two huge beaches and the grounds are spectacular. The resort also has three pools so you never feel crowded.
You can do what we do which is to rent a taxi for the day and this will cost you roughly $60 Peso. We usually go for about 5 hours, enough time to walk around, have some drinks, do some shopping, relax, we just enjoy feeling of being in such an old city knowing that much has changed.
When you are in Remedios go see our friend Marelys Gonzalez who has just opened up her own restaurant 'LA PIRAMIDE'. Please tell her that Steve and JC sent you. Marelys used to be our consierge at the Iberostar Ensanachos previously Royal Hideaway. It is a lovely place located about a 5 minute walk from the main square. The food is really good, the restaurant is very clean and has air conditioning. Address location is Andres del Rio # 9-A Second floor. As I mentined it is only five mnute walk from the main square if that so if you ask for directions let them know it is that close. The number is 042-395421.
Wherever you decide to go in Cuba, take your time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful old place and remember things move slower in Cuba, that's because they don't want you to miss anything. :)
Review - Article by Steve Tiveron
Remedios is one of the oldest cities in Cuba and history dates its origin back to the early 1500's .When my partner and I visit Cuba we always take a day trip to visit different cities in Cuba and to our delight Remedios was a spectacular city to immerse ourselves in the history, culture and sights of a historic and timeless place.
If you stay at any of the near by resorts you have the option of taking a tour with a guide or you can opt to do it yourself by ordering a taxi for the day. My partner and I prefer to tour on our own only because we can spend as long as we wish without time restraints of a guided tour. From the Cayo Santa Maria area you are looking at roughly $80 pesos for the day by taxi and the ride is about half an hour.
When we first arrived in Remedios the first thing we noticed is it's age, not unlike other Cuban cities it seems to have stood still in time and has not been touched except for some paint here and there for hundreds of years.
Our driver dropped us off at the local bar in the city square and off we went on our adventure through the streets and allies like explorers in a new land. On our walks through the city we were quickly aware of the architecture and wonderful colours adoring the homes and public buildings. Each turn we took was a surprise and I could not help myself from looking into the dark doorways of the homes we past just to get a sense of how the residents live. I did notice beautiful marble tiles on the floors that would probably cost a fortune if you had to buy it yourself back home.
Walking around Remedios I felt like a kid in a candy store and was delighted with everything I saw. Remedios is the only town in Cuba with two churches on its main square, one called Iglesia del Buen Viaje which is in the process of being repaired and The "Iglesia Mayor" The Iglesia Mayor contains 13 beautifully decorated gold altars. The city was under constant siege by pirates of the Caribbean and therefore the gold was hidden under white paint. There is even a grave of someone buried inside the church but I forget who it is.
Even though I knew what a Casa particular was I had never been in one until we visited Remedios. We were walking around the square and decided to visit this little art gallery that had the most amazing little paintings of the local area. Beside it was this beautiful doorway with a sign that said Casa Particular and I just had to visit. I knocked on the door and these two woman came to the door and allowed us to go in and look around. From the outside this place looked run down but once you entered the front door your jaw drops at the beauty of this place. Marble everywhere, old dark colonial furniture in every corner, antiques that you would die to have in your possession. From the outside this place looked small but again I was pleasantly surprised by the size of this home. Beyond the living room yet still inside the home is a garden area that is wide open with no roof. I have seen this style in magazines but never experienced it first hand. This was a two bedroom home and was completely adorned with beautiful artifacts and old world charm. Cost per week $100 pesos.
I recommend visiting Remedios not only to help support this wonderful city but take in its historical culture and the wonderful hospitality of its people. You will leave with an appreciation of architecture, history and the Cuban lifestyle. Cities like Havana are visited all the time but Remedios is one city that you will undoubtedly feel like first time explorers. Don't pass up the chance to visit when in the Cayo Santa Maria area, you will not regret it.