495th Anniversary of Remedios City, Villa Clara province
Deeply rooted in San Juan de los Remedios, legends and traditions coexist in big colonial houses to perpetuate their magic, which sprouts every June 24, now on occasion of the 495th founding anniversary of the city.
This year’s celebration has a special connotation, because it takes place amid the joy of Villa Clara’s settlers, who won the venue for the main celebration of the National Rebelliousness Day, next July 26th.
Visitors notice its architectural wealth upon their arrival in this town, born in 1515, with the settlement of a group of Spaniards in a place known as Cruz de la Sabana de Vasco Porcallo, community turned into the eighth township of Cuba, thirty years later.
Located in the middle of the island, it celebrates its saint’s day with the oldest popular parties of the country, which preserve popular roots like the capture and release of the ‘güije’ (whimsical black goblin), of the pool from La Bajada by seven Juanes, a very important legend among the people of Remedios.
These festivities are held since the early years of the 18th century and keep traditions such as the pyre burning, sack race, old games like the cat in the large earthen jar, a peseta in the pan and the greasy pole.
In 1980, the historic heart of the city was declared National Monument, place that holds old and valuable buildings that revive the time of development of the sugar industry.
Among its most outstanding architectural gems appear La Plaza de la Reina Isabel II, today’s Jose Marti Park, built in 1815; La Iglesia Mayor, 16th-century baroque jewel and El Louvre Cafeteria, opened in 1866 and that preserves its original function.
The place features the revival of gastronomic, cultural and lodging facilities, which favor the preservation of real state properties, improves conditions for local services and strengthens Remedios in the preference of foreign tourism, which increases in the northeastern keys, a few kilometers from the locality.
Every December 24, since the 1820s, locals celebrate the ‘parrandas’ (traditional carnival-like street parties), embellished by the festive rivalry between El Carmen and San Salvador neighborhoods, which concludes with the exhibition of huge floats and the display of lights and colorful fireworks.
The municipality is one of the seven Cuban territories that implemented the Local Development Scheme (LDS) since mid 2009, and begins to bear visible fruits in this place of big potentialities to boost leisure industry.
San Juan de los Remedios, which flirts with half a millennium, charms at sight thanks to its architecture and the passion of its people in the safeguard of the heritage of their ancestors.
By Luz María Martínez