Once, Santiago de Cuba was the capital of Cuba. But, the capital moved north to the new built city Havana back in 1552.
As you can see, Santiago is quite old. But, you can find less old buildings then in i.e. Trinidad. OK, you won’t find much modern building in the old town, but the majority of the buildings were built during the 19th and the early 20th century.
As I mentioned in my post on the island Granma in the bay of Santiago, the southern part of Cuba was affected very hard by the hurricane Sandy. And, although Sandy happened more than 3 month ago, we were still able to see, how much the city was affected. Many buildings were destroyed. some of them were only tentative repaired to give the inhabitants a roof. Others were so much affected, that the people set up tents inside the houses. Or put signs at the door, saying that there is still someone living.
Although, many houses are damaged, you can still see, once Santiago was rich. Now, it is quite different. Santiago was the only city where we were hassled by beggars. They even followed us constantly begging for money. In other cities we also met poor people. But, those tried to offer a value for the money. They tried to sell something like cigars, water or soft-drinks. They made music or offered services like guidance or recommending restaurants. But here they were only begging. Fortunately they didn’t departed much from the place Parque Cespedes and thus left us alone after a few minutes.
During our visit we were also affected by the national mourning because of the death of Hugo Chaves, the president of Venezuela. For 1 week all dancing shows and even music plays were forbidden. So, we missed nearly all of our visiting plans here in Santiago.
I, personally, won’t visit Santiago for a second time. There are other places that are more interesting.