Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos
Urban Historic Centre Of Cienfuegos
Cultural Cuba Latin America And The Caribbean Municipality Of Cienfuegos

The historic town of Cienfuegos exhibits an important interchange of influences based on the Spanish Enlightenment, and it is an outstanding early example of their implementation in urban planning in Latin America in the 19th century. It is the first and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as these developed in Latin America from the 19th century.

Cienfuegos is located on the Caribbean coast of southern central Cuba at the heart of the country's sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production. It was founded, as the Colony Fernandina de Jagua, in the Spanish territory in 1819, but settled by French from Bordeaux, Louisiana, Philadelphia and Guarico. This formal foundation followed a series of earlier attempts in this region, where the economy was based on cattle-raising and cultivation of tobacco. The town was laid out in a grid plan with 25 blocks that formed its original centre, limited by St Elena Street in the north, St Clara in the south, Velazco in the west, and Hourruitiner in the east.

From the 18th century, there was wax production, as well as timber and sugar. In the 1830s, the colony grew based on the increment of sugar production but also due to its favourable geographical location. The settlement was recognized with the category of 'Villa' as a confirmation of its urban aspect. It was authorized to trade in the domestic and foreign fields.

In the late 19th century, new functions were introduced into this emergent commercial port city, which continued growing. The original grid plan was multiplied towards the inland and along the coast.

After the War of Independence from Spain ended, there was new capital entering from North America. By 1914, American investors were proprietors of the most important sugar mills in the province. Trade developed mainly with the United States, the principal market for Cienfuegos. With the new administrative division of 1976, the city of Cienfuegos became the capital of the province with the same name, increasing its development further. The local administration remained concentrated in the downtown area. As a whole, this area has retained its historic fabric without such drastic changes as is common in many historic cities. Today, the city is still developing and has some 167,000 inhabitants.

The core zone of the World Heritage site is 70 ha, consisting of part of the 19th-century town. The buffer zone is 105 ha, covering one urban block on the landside and two blocks on the peninsula. In addition, it extends along the coast towards the south.

The original central square of the town, the Plaza de Armas, was enlarged with another block to the west in 1830. This area was reserved for public functions: government buildings, a church, and the customs building and similar. The town developed as a compact structure, initially in neoclassical style, later eclectic, forming an overall unity. Most of the buildings have one or two storeys. The facades are generally plain without porches.

The most representative buildings include the Government Palace (City Hall, current office of the Provincial Assembly of the Popular Power), San Lorenzo School, Bishopric, Ferrer Palace, former Lyceum building and some residential buildings. At present, in the historic centre, six buildings remain from the first half of the 19th century and 327 buildings from the second half. There are 1,188 buildings from the 20th century, most of them from the first half. In all there are some 300 public buildings, and the rest are mainly residential.