Postcards from Cuba: A French City in the Caribbean

Postcards from Cuba: A French City in the Caribbean

Bathed by the Caribbean waters in southern Cuba and heir par excellence of French architecture, the city of Cienfuegos stands out as one of the privileged destinations in the largest Antillean Island.
Its historic center, considered a representative exponent of the influence of the Enlightenment in Latin America and declared  World Heritage Site in 2005, is also an example of the ideas of modernity and urban planning of the 19th century.

The elegant domes, facades and ornaments on older buildings confirm the heritage of the only city in Hispanic America founded by the French under Spanish rule.

More than 40 settlers, mainly from Bordeaux, under the command of Don Luis De Clouet established the city in the center of Cuba under the name of Fernandina de Jagua on April 22, 1819.

The passage of time and the growth of the city did not erase the traditional atmosphere and the value of its buildings that integrated, on the contrary, a set of old and new buildings with the environmental unity that currently identifies the Pearl of the South.

Cienfuegos also maintains the French imprint in the toponymy of some streets, architecture of buildings in art nouveau, art deco and neoclassical styles.

The Martí Park with its Arch of triumph; the hotel La Unión with its neoclassical showcase; the tombs of founders and their heirs in the cemeteries of Reina and Tomas Acea; and the descendant families with French surnames also demonstrate the presence of that European culture in Cienfuegos.

The stylization of customs in domestic utensils, weaving techniques, tableware, food habits, as well as in elements of the city's identity, the local coat of arms and flag confirm Cienfuegos as a French city in the Caribbean