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Santa Clara is located at the centre of the beautiful island of Cuba in the Caribbean and is the capital city of the province of Villa Clara. It is situated three hours drive from the capital city of Havana and can be reached via the National Highway. Founded in 1689 Santa Clara is an attractive university city with narrow winding streets and pretty colonial architecture. There is plenty to see and do in and around Santa Clara.
The Museum of Decorative Arts has a vast collection of colonial artefacts and is situated opposite Leoncio Vidal Park in one of the most attractive buildings in the area. It holds a fine collection of furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries with such styles as rococo, neoclassical and imperial Cuban. Pope John Paul II made a historic visit to the city in 1998 and there is an impressive memorial monument in memory of this event, donated as a gift from the Vatican and placed in the location of the pope's first mass there.
Santa Clara is also the final resting place of Che Guevara and there is a mausoleum and monument of Che in the Plaza de la Revolucion with a bronze statue of him, which received over 260,000 visitors in 2009. There is also a museum which details his activities in the Cuban revolution.
Parque Vidal is located in central Santa Clara and is typical of a Cuban urban park. It is traditionally a meeting place for local people and they used to walk around the park several times, the women walking the inner path whilst the men walked the outer route. The Catedral de Santa Clara de Asis is the major religious building in Santa Clara, built in 1923 following the demolition of the original cathedral in Parque Vidal.
Located 130 km from Santa Clara are the baths of Elquea in Villa Clara. Many visitors travel to the baths to benefit from the healing properties of the fresh springs which are rich in sulphur. There is now a resort which has been built around the springs, including a resort hotel, mud baths and swimming pool.
Cubans love to dance and it is no surprise that Santa Clara has several night clubs to enjoy late into the night. Live music is also very much a feature of the country and it is never difficult for visitors to find small bands playing salsa and other Latin rhythms, often in the street. There are several piano bars and lounges as well as wine bars to cater for all tastes. Food is excellent in Cuba and the service in restaurants is good.
There are good transport connections from Havana Airport to Santa Clara. The train station is located north of Parque Vidal and connects with Bayamo, Cienfuegos, Matanzas and Sancti Spiritus. The best and cheapest way to get around Santa Clara is by horse and carriage or by bici-taxi. Car and moped hire is available in the city and is a great way for the visitor to explore the surrounding area independently. Alternatively, there are cars with drivers for hire in front of the national bus station and there are always plenty of taxis for hire around Parque Vidal. Abel Santa Clara Airport links with other major cities and resorts in Cuba such as Varadero, Cayo Coco, Ciego de Avila and Havana.