To whet your appetite for this kind of historical walking break, here’s a bit of information about Cuba’s revolutionary past, as well as the sights you can see if you choose to tackle a route dedicated to this period of the island nation’s past.
The Cuban revolution: the basics
Rebels began a campaign to liberate Cuba from its dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1953, with the likes of Fidel and Raul Castro among those involved in the early stages of the revolt. The first major event took place on July 26th 1953, when Fidel Castro and his brother led an assault on the Moncada Barracks.
This unsuccessful attempt to capture arms resulted in many rebels being captured and killed or sent to prison. In 1955, the survivors were released by Batista due to international pressure, and Castro left for Mexico, where he met Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. It was not until December 1956 that the revolutionaries returned to Cuba, with around 80 of them landing in a vessel called the Granma.
Although many of these men died shortly after arriving on the island, those who remained took refuge in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, from where they coordinated small attacks, with the revolution coming to a head in 1958, when Castro launched an offensive in August, which eventually ended in victory on January 2nd 1959.
Walking the trails of the revolutionaries
As you’ve probably guessed, a walking tour that follows in the footsteps of the revolutionaries will take you into the Sierra Maestra Mountains, where you’ll visit some of the hideouts used by the rebels during the period of fighting with the Batista regime.
The main site you’ll visit while trekking in this region of Cuba is La Comandancia de La Plata, which became the permanent base of operations for the revolutionaries in 1958. It is situated on the foothills of the country’s highest mountain – Pico Turquina – and along with the camp itself, there’s also a small museum detailing the lives and deeds of those who spent time here.
Discovering the attractions of the cities
Not all of your time in Cuba will be spent out and about in the mountains, as there are many attractions relating to this fascinating period in the nation’s history in its cities. You’ll start out by exploring Havana, where you can visit the Museum of the Revolution and even see what remains of the Granma.
From here, you’ll journey to Trinidad, where you can learn about an unsuccessful attempt by the US to overthrow Fidel Castro’s regime in 1961 during the so-called Bay of Pigs invasion. You’ll find a museum dedicated to the incident at the Playa Giron.
Another city with strong revolutionary ties is Santiago, where Castro announced victory over Batista’s forces at the beginning of 1959. The city is also home to the Moncada Barracks, so you can view the location of the first attempt by Castro to oust the incumbent dictator. In the Plaza de la Revolucion, you’ll come across a series of monuments dedicated to those who lost their lives fighting for Cuba’s independence.
Taking a tour based on the Cuban revolutionaries with a company like Explore Worldwide is, therefore, an excellent way to get an all-round view of the country and learn a little about its fascinating past.