This strategically placed town played an important part in the wars of independence, particularly in December 1958 when Che Guevara and his army attacked and captured the city, which triggered the capitulation of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Today it is an important commercial hub and home to one of Cuba’s largest universities, but is probably best known as the resting place of Che Guevara.
Places to Visit
Che Guevara Mausoleum
This monument to Santa Clara’s adopted son stands in Revolution Square in the outskirts of the city, where a huge bronze statue of Che Guevara, rifle in hand, stands atop an impressive podium. The adjacent mausoleum contains his remains and a museum underneath the monument depicts his life and commemorates those of the revolutionaries that died with him in Bolivia in 1967.
Tren Blindado Monument
In December 1958 Batista had sent 10,000 troops to Santa Clara to prevent further progress by the revolutionaries. Guevara and 300 men attacked and took control of an armoured troop train, using it as a base for further attacks which culminated in victory for the revolutionaries and ultimately the triumph of the Revolution. The five carriages remain as they were when they were knocked off the track and you can enter them to view exhibits detailing the battle.
This pedestrianised square has a double width promenade at its centre, dating from the days when the walkway was racially segregated! Today the square is full of life and surrounded by such colonial attractions as the Caridad theatre, whose foyer boasts a beautiful ceiling fresco and attractive muralled foyer; the Jose Marti library, with its expansive façade and Greek-style porticoes; and the Museum of Decorative Arts, which houses an outstanding collection of exquisite colonial antiques.
Places to Eat
The restaurant in this hotel is open to non-residents and offers a very good buffet lunch and a la carte dinner menu under a cool thatched roof. Plantain mash ('fufu') is the house speciality.