Baracoa, former capital • Cuba

Set sail on a captivating journey back in time, all in under 6 minutes, to Baracoa, the very first capital of Cuba. This historic city marks the exact spot where Christopher Columbus first set foot on Cuban soil back in 1492. Meander through cobblestone streets that have retained their colonial charm, feel the presence of centuries of lived history, and connect with the direct descendants of the native Taíno people. Baracoa's history is a precious witness to Cuba's past and its people, its echo reverberates in every stone, every corner, and every warm smile of its inhabitants. Prepare yourself to be moved by the timeless beauty and rich history of this Cuban gem.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Cuba (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Cuba. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the historical context of the sites shown in this video.


Baracoa is a small town located at the far eastern tip of Cuba. Few tourists go to Baracoa because the city is quite far from the capital and other tourist spots in Cuba.

Christopher Colombus

As Christopher Columbus came by boat to Cuba from Spain, the east of the island is necessarily the first point of disembarkation.

Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba in December 1492 and planted a cross at the landing site in the name of the King of Spain, where Baracoa was to be founded twenty years later by Diego Velasquez. He would repeat this gesture more than twenty times during his expeditions to America.

the cross of Parra

This cross, called the Cross of Parra, has been preserved to this day and is currently on display in a museum in Havana after spending many years in the Cathedral of Baracoa. A copy has been placed in the Cathedral of Baracoa.

This cross has been worshiped for centuries and was considered a relic with magical powers. It was much larger when it was planted by Christopher Columbus, but the faithful all wanted to own a piece of this miraculous cross, so the cross was eventually encased in a silver plinth to prevent its complete disintegration.

Baracoa, capital of Cuba

Baracoa was the first (ephemeral) capital of the new Spanish colony of Cuba.

Isolated Baracoa

The city was cut off from the rest of the world. No road led there until the 1960s, and the only way to get there was by sea. This isolation encouraged clandestine exchanges with the French and the English from the 16th century.


Its relative proximity to Haiti, as well as its isolation from the rest of the island encouraged French planters to settle there during the Haitian revolution at the beginning of the 19th century. It is to them that Baracoa owes its coffee and cocoa plantations.

Baracoa today

Baracoa has remained one of the most charming towns on the island, probably due to its isolation which lasted for centuries. This allowed him to keep this colonial charm.

And as in the rest of Cuba, the streets are decorated with works of art, whether bronze statues of men at work, or murals brightening up the alleys.


about the place, Baracoa:

Baracoa is probably where Christopher Columbus landed when he discovered Cuba in 1492. It is also one of the few places in Cuba where the conquistadors did not slaughter the original inhabitants of the island. There are still descendants of the Taino Indians. Hatuey, local hero raised an army of Tainos to drive the Spaniards from the island but this attempt failed.

Baracoa is the oldest Spanish colony on Cuba and was its first capital.

The city is located at the eastern end of the island. The city has only been easily accessible since the 1960s, which explains why it has kept its colonial charm.



 - YouTube video library - Carol of the Bells

 - YouTube video library - Clouds


• Disclaimer: As traditional music is often subject to copyright (claimed by major music distribution groups), the musical illustration of this film "Baracoa, former capital • Cuba (EN)" does not use typical music of Cuba but is borrowed from a collection of royalty-free music. Despite the painstaking care given to the musical choices in this film, some people may regret this choice, but it is the price to pay for not incurring unnecessary lawsuits. This decision was difficult to take, but it's the only viable solution, unfortunately. •

a painter, Baracoa • Cuba

What's the weather like in Baracoa?

link to related pages

• List of videos over Baracoa on this site •

Baracoa, former capital • Cuba
Some historical places • Cuba


 Spoken comments in the film: 

- A cross (Cruz de Parra) would have been planted there by Christopher Columbus when he discovered the island of Cuba on December 1, 1492.

This is of course a reproduction, but it underlines the historical importance of Baracoa.


What is considered the original (carbon-14 dating indicates that it dates from the 15th century) is in the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora da la Asunción (Our Lady of the Ascension) in the center of Baracoa. If it is proven that this cross dates well from the time, nothing proves on the contrary the role of Christopher Columbus, the wood of this cross being of Cuban origin.


Baracoa was the first capital of the new Spanish colony during the 16th century.


- Hatuey was a hero of the Indian people who occupied the island before the arrival of the conquistadors. He organized the resistance and was condemned to the stake after his capture.

The missionaries wanted to convert him to Catholicism before his death to assure him "eternal salvation".

Hatuey asked if there were any Spaniards in Heaven as well and after a positive response from the missionary, he declined the offer of salvation ...

Statue of Hatuey, resistant against the conquistadors, Baracoa • Cuba

Statue of Hatuey, resistant against the conquistadors

the coast, Baracoa • Cuba

the coast

in the historic center, Baracoa • Cuba

in the historic center

a city street, Baracoa • Cuba

a city street

Baracoa, Cuba

© 2020 - 2024 • Jean-Marie Putz, PutzProductions