Trinidad, (pop: 60,000) 133 km south of Santa Clara, is a perfect relic of the early days of the Spanish colony: beautifully preserved streets and buildings and hardly a trace of the 20th century anywhere. It was founded in 1514 by Diego Velázquez as a base for expeditions into the ‘New World’and Cortés set out from here for Mexico in 1518.
The five main squares and four churches date from the 18th and 19th centuries and the whole city, with its fine palaces, cobbled streets and tiled roofs, is a national monument and since 1988 has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the Plaza Mayor is the cathedral, Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad, built between 1817 and 1892. It is the largest church in Cuba and is renowned for its acoustics. On the left of the altar is a crucifix of the brown-skinned Christ of Veracruz, who is the patron of Trinidad. 1130-1300, 1930-2000, mass daily at 2000-2100 when tourists are excluded.
The Museo Romántico has an excellent collection of romantic-style porcelain, glass, paintings and ornate furniture, which belonged to the Conde de Brunet family and dates from 1830-60. Hernández 52, next to the church of Santísima Trinidad on the main square, T4363. Tue, Thu 0800-2200, Sat-Mon, Wed, Fri 0800- 1800, US$2, no cameras allowed.
Museo Municipal de Historia, an attractive building but rather dull displays in eight rooms of scientific, historical and cultural displays, walk up the tower for a good view of Trinidad. Simón Bolívar 423, T4460. Sun-Tue, Thur 0900- 1800, Wed, Fri 0900-2200, US$2.
Other museums worth visiting include: the Museo de Arqueología Guamuhaya, a general view of developments from precolumbian to post-conquest times, Simón Bolívar 457, esquina Villena, Plaza Mayor, T3420, Mon, Wed 0900- 2200, Sun, Tue, Thur, Fri 0900-1700, US$2. Museo de Arquitectura Colonial exhibits specifically on the architecture of Trinidad, particularly aspects of the 18th and 19th centuries. Desengaño 83, T3208, Mon, Thur 0900-2200, Sat, Sun, Tue, Wed 0900-1700, US$2; Museo Nacional de Lucha Contra Bandidos, housed in the old San Francisco convent, exhibits about the campaign in the Escambray mountains. Hernández esquina Piro Guinart, T4121, Tue, Fri 0900-2200, Wed, Thur, Sat, Sun 0900-1700, US$2.