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The rise, fall and resurgence ofTrinidad

First, it was the gold. Trinidad had enough of the sought-after mineral to become the third villa founded by the Spanish in Cuba. Being at the centre of the island, on the northern shore of the Caribbean Sea, its location was also a key asset, especially from the military standpoint. In fact, the city was the bridgehead for the conquest of the American continent in the early 16th century.

However, gold reserves soon ran out and, with it, the relative economic boom. The decline was such that only six Spanish families remained in the region at the end of the 17th century.

Then, the sugar industry allowed the city to flourish again from the late 18th century to well into the 19th century. Only that this time, it was a true explosion. The population grew exponentially, reaching 30 thousand people, of which 11 thousand were African slaves. At the industry’s peak in the 19th century, more than 50 sugar cane mills were operating in the three interconnected rural valleys situated 12 kilometres northeast of Trinidad; an area fittingly called Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills). The production exceeded 7.5 thousand tons a year.

But it all came to an abrupt end around 1850. The anti-slavery movements and the struggle for the Cuban independence from Spain, combined with the surging beet sugar industry in Europe, created a perfect storm that not just disrupted the sugar industry, but effectively froze Trinidad in time.

The remarkable scene of a colonial city that remains unchanged, as well as the popular traditions that stood the test of time, have brought Trinidad to the forefront once more at the turn of the millennium. Busloads of visitors wander everyday through the cobblestone streets and the luxurious buildings, which provide an authentic picture of the golden age of the city, such as the Palacio Brunet and the Palacio Cantero.

Main attractions also include the former plantations, mill buildings and other facilities and archaeological sites in the Valle de los Ingenios, which represent the richest and best-preserved testimony of the Caribbean sugar agro-industrial process of the 18th and 19th centuries, and of the slavery phenomenon associated with it.

Thus, with the designation of World Heritage Site by UNESCO and Craft City by the World Craft Council, Trinidad is back on the crest of the wave, which happens every couple of centuries. Perhaps you want to consider going now!

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Sarah Foda, Sales Director

Sarah Foda
Sales Director
+1 786 825 8164

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