Santiago de Cuba, every cultural manifestation is linked to historical
events. The fortifications built by the Spaniards speak of the danger
of the attacks of pirates and privateers.
In the 18th century, when the slave uprising took place in Haiti,
a group of French colons sought refuge in Cuba. Thus, along its
history, Santiago de Cuba was the vortex of a Caribbean immigration
that contributed to its cultural, social, and economical development.
A colonial architecture with a great Andalusian and Moorish influence
speaks for itself about the cultural antecedents of this city.
Moorish architecture discovers, in turn, the influence exerted by
the moors during eight centuries of occupation in Spain. French-Haitian
presence becomes present in the "tumba francesa" practice,
in the development of coffee cultivation, and in the Tivolí
theater. Each stone marks the presence of colonial times and the
bloody times of slavery up to the
19th century. But, shaded by the mountains, Santiago started to
develop an idiosyncrasy of its own. The battle fields gave birth
to the Teatro de Relaciones, where stories or legends of the rural
areas were sung, acted or narrated.
The Son and the Bolero, musical genres so diffused in Cuba and the
world, were born in this region, where black-rooted music imposes
its rhythm to the city and becomes the ruler of the streets every
year when the Santiago carnivals are celebrated.
Particularly, the son appears to have come down from the mountains:
"the singers are from the mountains", says the lyrics
of a famous song by El Trio Matamoros.
The revolutionaries of that eastern zone knew at the same time of
heroism and music. In the 20th century, the people of Santiago came
out from their classrooms to express their position against any
kind of oppression. Many of its martyrs were teachers
like Frank País and José Tey.
The Universidad de Oriente constituted a higher-learning institution
for the eastern region. Renowned pedagogues, writers, and scientists
have been formed in it. The pedagogical institute was named after
Frank País and hundreds of professionals are graduated there
Now, culture turns also towards the environment: the protected natural
landscape of "La Gran Piedra", the biosphere reserve of
Baconao, and the Turquino national park. Santiago is a city that
has been privileged by its history, its nature, its music, and its
people, having a high mestizo character, are singular due to their
way of being as well as because of their hospitality.