Revolutions are not an uncommon occurrence in our world, and each of them is momentous in its own way. However, few of the modern day revolutions had such a big impact as the Cuban Revolution, led by Fidel Castro. It did not only result in a complete change of the country’s governmental system. But this was also the reason that destroyed the relationship between Cuba and the US, a relationship that remains shattered even 60 years down the line.
When vacationing in Cuba, you should take the time to look at the history of this revolution to see how one of the momentous events of the 20th century has occurred. The people living here remember those events very well and they pay respects to every site that played an important part during that period.
8 Places to Visit When Studying History of the Cuban Revolution
1. Finca Biran
Finca Biran isn’t a place of some notable battle or guerilla camp. It’s a simple farm, which has been turned into a museum today. They reason why it matters for those who want to study the Cuban Revolution is that this plantation was the birthplace of Fidel Castro.
Today tourists who come to visit Finca Buiran can see his childhood bed, school, and a handful of buildings where the leader of the revolution spent his childhood. A visit to this museum is definitely worth your time because it can help you see a more ‘human’ version of Fidel Castro. His role in the revolution itself and the government of Cuba after its victory make him seem ‘larger than life’. This reminder of the fact that he was the same as hundreds of others who fought for their country make you appreciate his ambition and unwavering determination all the more.
2. Moncada Barracks (Santiago de Cuba)
Santiago de Cuba is the city where the actual revolution started back in 1953. Early in the morning, a group of rebels set out to attack the Moncada Barracks in order to overthrow President Batista. The group consisted of 140 men and 60 of them died in the ensuing battle. Fidel Castro and his brother Raul survived and that’s how the story truly begins.
Today, you can visit the museum located in the Moncada Barracks to learn the details about this battle. However, it will be even more fun to come here on July 26th. At this time, you will be able to witness a reenactment of those events.
3. Granma Yacht and the Museum of Revolution (Havana)
It may have started in Santiago de Cuba, but it was in Havana that the revolution truly ended. This event is commemorated by monuments and important historic sites, which you will see when taking tours in Havana. During those, you will see every important building used by the resistance. And you’ll be able to learn what exactly happened and how the conflict that lasted nearly a decade ended for good.
The most prominent of all the Revolution landmarks located in Havana are the Museum of Revolution and Granma Yacht (located right next to it). The museum is astoundingly beautiful as it’s located in the former Presidential Palace, decorated by Tiffany.
The Granma Yacht was the transport used by the Castro brothers to return to Cuba after escaping their exile. It barely made it to the shore, overloaded as it was with 82 people on board. The wreck of this ship is now considered one of the most precious pieces of the Cuban Revolution legacy.
4. Parque Nacional Desembarco de Granma (Playa Las Coloradas)
The return of the Castro brothers, along with Che Guevara, is such an important event, even the spot where the ship nearly crashed is considered to be one of the country’s treasures. Today, it’s commemorated by a huge and beautiful national park.
Be sure to visit the place to both get a history lesson and enjoy the magnificent beauty of Cuban nature.
5. Presidio Modelo (Isle of Youth)
Presidio Modelo is the Cubans’ take on the Alcatraz Prison. This penitentiary, located on the Isle of youth was the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution’s manifesto. Fidel Castro wrote it using lemon juice, so it could be smuggled out of the prison by his supporters.
The Castro brothers spent 19 months in Presidio Modelo. But they left for an exile to Mexico in 1955, after President Batista announced an amnesty.
6. Comandacia de la Plata
Comandacia de la Plata is a mountain camp set up by Fidel Castro and few of his guerillas who survived an ambush organized by President Batista. The camp was built in 1958 and soon the number of people there increased due to the local peasants who joined the ranks of rebels.
Seeing what remains of this camp today isn’t easy as tours there are exclusive to Cuba’s Ecotour. The place is located not too far from the village of Santo Domingo. You can stay there and join the tour.
7. Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado (Santa Clara)
Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado is a monument dedicated to one of the most important battles of the Cuban Revolution. At that time, a group of rebels led by Che Guevara derailed a train packed with Batista’s troops. This was a major hit and the President was forced to flee the country soon after.
8. Bay of Pigs
One could say that the Bay of Pigs, located at the south of the island, is the place where the relationship between the US and Cuba died. This is where Cuban exiles landed back in 1961 in order to overthrow the government set up by Fidel Castro. The exiles were trained by the CIA and supplied with arms.
Yet, Castro’s men were prepared for the invasion and stopped it before it could begin. 160 Cubans died in this fight and 120 invaders. Over a thousand men were captured. The relationship between the US and Cuba has never recovered.
Today, there are 160 memorials along the Bay of Pigs Rad that honor the memory of the fallen Cuban soldiers. Multiple artefacts from this incident are exhibited in the Museum of the Revolution.