Ciego de Ávila

Ciego de Ávila is Cuba without the wrapping paper, a no-frills provincial city that has long served as a kind of halfway house for travelers heading east on the Carretera Central. You'll find few colonial buildings of note here, and even fewer tourists. Christened 'the city of porches' for its colonnaded shop fronts, Ciego de Ávila was founded in 1840 and quickly became an important processing center for the region's profitable sugarcane industry. While not quite in Habana's league, many of the city's neoclassical buildings - including the 500-seat Teatro Principal - were financed by a local socialite named Angela Hernández Viuda de Jímenenz, a rich widow who harbored ambitions to create a cultural mecca, à la Trinidad, in her home town.

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