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Sites in eastern Cuba holiday destinations declared National Monuments

Updated on March 31, 2012

El Cobre, Cuba declared National Monument

The mining town "El Cobre" and other sites in eastern Cuba holiday destinations have been recently declared National Monuments by the National Commission of Monuments, attached to the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

The town "El Cobre", located in Santiago de Cuba, one of the most stunning of Cuba holiday destinations was recently declared National Monument along with other sites of the island's eastern provinces of Holguin and Santiago de Cuba. A former mining village, this small settlement placed at the heart of the Sierra Maestra mountain range, owes its reputation to the shrine of the Virgin of Charity (Virgen de la Caridad) which was established there in 1927.

"El Cobre" was founded in 1550 by Spanish conquerors in Cuba who realizing the geologic conditions of its soil set up a copper mine using Indian and slave work. Little by little, miners and colonisers began to settle in the place creating a small community which grew into the village that it is today

In 1608, slaves and Indians working in the mine found an object floating in the water of a nearby coast. It was a small statue of a virgin carrying a child and a gold cross. As the sculpture was in a board with the inscription "Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad" (I'm the virgin of Charity), local settlers named the new saint as "La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre". In 1998, with the visit of the Pope John Paul II, the virgin was officially recognised as the patroness of Cuba after almost 400 years of continuous worshiping.

At present time, "El Cobre" has grown into not only a place for peregrination but a very popular destination for tourists spending holidays in Cuba. Every year, thousands of foreign and Cuban visitors travel to this intricate town whether to pay respect to the ecclesiastical figure or to simply visit the sanctuary. It was this devotion which led the National Commission of Monuments, attached to the Cuban Ministry of Culture, to add the village and other places in the road from the Bay of Nipe-site of the discovery-to the town, in the list of national shrines.

Last 26th March 2012, "El Cobre" was visited by the Pope Benedict XVI who decided to travel to Cuba invited by the island's authorities in the year of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the virgin. This "Pilgrim of Charity" arrived to the capital city of this province with cardinals and journalists from the Vatican. Before returning to the Holy See, he will be blessing thousands of parishioners in a public mass at the iconic Revolution square in Havana.

Other sites appointed as National Monuments include "Cayo La Virgen" and "Barajagua" in the province of Holguin, one of the major Cuba holiday destinations.

El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

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