Discover landmarks of the Cuban Revolution in Santa Clara

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Attraction

There is a little-known connection between Santa Clara, the country of Canada and the Cuban revolution. On December 31, 1958, Ernesto "Che" Guevara's rebel army derailed a government weapons train near the town using a Canadian bulldozer. Needless to say, Cubans have a deep affection for Canadians.

Armed with their new weapons, Che's army captured the city two days later, forcing Fulgencio Batista to flee the country - ending the revolution and allowing Fidel Castro to step in as the new leader. The derailed boxcars are now part of the small Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado museum.

Scattered around town are dozens of revolutionary monuments and buildings that still bear bullet holes from the battles. On a hill overlooking the city, you'll find Revolution Plaza with a 7-metre-tall bronze statue of Che holding his rifle. You can also visit the small museum dedicated to his life, a mausoleum containing his remains, and the remains of the 37 comrades who died with him in his attempt to stir up revolts in Bolivia.

On the north side of the compound, you will find the Garden Of The Tombs, with an eternal flame surrounded by 220 marble tombs to mark the number of Che's fighters who captured the town.

Next, head to Parque Vidal in the centre of town. It's named after hero Leoncio Vidal - one of the rebels killed in the assault on the main Batista troop position in the Santa Clara Hilton (the tallest building in town). Look for the Hotel Santa Clara Libre here as well. The mint-green, bullet-ridden art deco hotel stands on the west side of the square.

Other notable buildings around Parque Vidal include the Teatro La Caridaa (built in 1885), the Museo de Artes Decorativas, with its fine collection of colonial antiques, and the old neoclassical Palacio Provincial, which houses the city library.

If you venture five blocks north of Parque Vidal, you'll come across the intimate Plaza del Carmen, where the impressive Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen church sits. In front of the church is a stone monument beside an old tamarind tree, marking the spot where the first mass celebrating Santa Clara's founding took place in 1689.