Cienfuegos, Cuba

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The city of Cienfuegos is also the capital of the province of the same name. A port city on Cuba’s southern coast, Cienfuegos has played an important role in Cuba’s history since it was founded in 1819, when the island was still Spanish territory, and today it remains one of the country’s important commercial centers—a transit point for coffee, sugarcane and tobacco. It has both welcomed and resisted incursions from various people and interests over the past two centuries. Both as the heart of Cuba’s sugar industry and as the birthplace of famous Cubans past and present, such as singer Benny Moré and baseball stars José Abreu and Yasiel Puig, the city looms large in Cuban consciousness, but it isn’t always on visitors’ itineraries, which is a shame. Cienfuegos boasts numerous attractions that give a fuller, more complex view of Cuban life, culture and history. This fact was recognized by UNESCO in 2005, when the organization inscribed the old center of Cienfuegos, with its many stately neoclassical buildings and “harmonious overall townscape” (to borrow UNESCO’s description), onto its World Heritage List.