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Holguin

           

 

“This is the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen” were the words -according to historical testimonies- said by Christopher Columbus, on October 27th, 1492 after setting foot on Cuban soil for the first time in Bariay, a seafront place in the  north of the province of Holguín.

Holguin province is in northeast Cuba with one and a half million people, and more than 9,300 square Kilometers, 25% of which, is covered by forests. Tourism, sugar industries, and vast nickel deposits are the province's most important economic resources. The province has 14 municipalities.

Holguin city, the capital of the province, was first settled by Captain García Holguín in 1525, when he acquired a piece of land in this region and built the first houses.

The best-known place in the city is the Hill of the Cross (Loma de la Cruz), with a single, massive, 458-step staircase.  From its top you can admire the city of Holguín and the surrounding landscape that this 261-meter elevation offers.

Its previous name was Cerro Bayado. On May 3rd, 1790, Fray Francisco Antonio de Alegría climbed the hill with a wooden cross that he placed at the top. Since then, it is known as the Hill of the Cross, setting the beginning of a religious tradition: the Pilgrimage of the Cross (Romerías de la Cruz). This Old Spanish tradition was on remembrance of the day when Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great claimed to have found the original cross of Calvary.

Oscar Alvanés Carballo, a lover of his city, came with the idea of building a staircase all the way to the top. Vicente Biosca carried out the project, adding a chapel, a rotunda, the lookout and the reconstruction of the colonial fort at the base. The work began on January 28th, 1927 but was not finished until May 3rd, 1950.

Pilgrimage took place annually until the late 1950s and was interrupted until just a few years ago. Now it is known as the Pilgrimage of May (Romerías de Mayo), and it is a cultural and religious festivity that lasts for several days.

 

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