Museo De Historia Natural Carlos De La Torre Y Huerta
Combined with a visit to the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park in Holguin province, a trip to the Carlos de La Torre Natural Science Museum completes your education in Cuban flora and fauna. The visit takes about two hours and it's a great opportunity to access one of the most important museums in Cuba, with an interesting collection of malacology, ornithology, lepidoptera, insects, reptiles, amphibious, rocks, minerals, and an amazing paleontology collection.
Carlos de la Torre
Carlos de la Torre y Huerta (1858-1950) was a leading Cuban naturalists and one time President of the University of Havana. His own professor was the equally influential Felipe Poey y Aloy. The Natural History Museum dedicated to Poey (where de la Torre also contributed to the collection) is based at Havana University and is also worth a visit, being a larger and older institution than its Holguin counterpart.
De la Torre was a specialist in molluscs. He collaborated with Smithsonian scientist Paul Bartsch and contributed specimens to what later became the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, now part of the largest museum and research complex. De la Torre was also dedicated to sharing and expanding his knowledge and was well-loved by his students and colleagues.
The Museum's Collections
Despite being smaller than its Havana counterpart, the Carlos de La Torre Natural Science Museum features nonetheless one of the best natural sciences collections in Cuba. Visitors can see stuffed birds and mammals, sponges, conchs and shells, and a large collection of polymites. Polymites are a particular Cuban mollusc - a kind of snail with brightly coloured shells featuring whirls of a contrasting colour. Although the populations are declining, they are particularly prevalent in the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park and every snail's marking are different.
Particular highlights include the only two specimens of the almost-extinct royal woodpecker to be found in any Cuban museum. Expeditions by the museum and its partners to the Sierra Maestra mountains to photograph these rare birds have thus far been unsuccessful.
Another popular exhibit is the manatee (sea cow). In old legends, this indigenous sea mammal was often mistaken for mermaids - in fact, its biological order is sirena, recalling the sirens of the sea. Today, it is also virtually extinct.
The museum is located on central Holguin at Calle Maceo No. 129 e/ Martí y Luz Caballero, and you can pay a visit from Tuesday to Saturday between 9am and 5pm, and Sundays only in the morning hours.
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Christopher Columbus Cemetery (or Cementerio de Colon in Spanish) is generally recognised as the most historically and architecturally important cemetery in Latin America. Home to over a million interred bodies including politicians, musicians, writers, artists, military heroes, and religious figures from both Cuba and around the world, this landmark of the Vedado neighbourhood is worth a visit for any culturally- or historically-inclined traveller.
Two young members of the Sarra family emigrated from Spain to seek their fortune in the Cuban colony. The museum at the Drogueria Sarra charts their huge success as they and their descendent created a pharma business, which by the turn of the 20th century was the second biggest worldwide.
For visitors interested in Cuba's history, Chorro de Maita is a popular day excursion from nearby Holguin and the resorts of Guardalavaca. The archaeological site, reconstructed Taino village and museum offer a vivid insight into the lives of indigenous Cubans around the early years of the Spanish colonisation.
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