Enramadas Street is considered emblematic of Santiago and even of Cuba as a whole. It’s a place where old and new blend into one, where locals of all stripes and tourists alike come together, and where you can get a feel for Cuba as the Cubans experience it every day.
A Bit of History
As the longest and busiest street found in Cuba’s second largest city, you can rest assured that Enramadas Street didn’t just spring up yesterday!
Once referred to as Calle Ancha (the Wide Street), Enramadas Street can trace its origins all the way back to a path that existed prior to 1603, when it was officially plotted out as a city street. The stretch of road was finally paved with cobblestone in 1845, and electric lighting arrived in 1906. It was then that Enramadas Street really began to thrive as the city’s main commercial thoroughfare.
A Cultural and Commercial Center
Among the many offerings of Enramadas Street can be found two of the city’s finest theatres, El Heredia and El Oriente, once called La Reina. Even today these theatres host some of the nation’s finest theatrical and operatic performances, and if by any chance you find yourself able to attend you certainly don’t want to pass up the opportunity.
Beyond these cultural institutions you will also find plenty of spots of more practical interest to tourist, including banks, places to eat, and of course a few outdoor parks where you can rest and take in all of the hustle and bustle surrounding you.
Finally, a trip down Enramadas Street offers visitors a very interesting look into the inner workings of the Cuban economy. It’s amazing to see so many state-run stores in one place, and the ability to explore so many of them back to back can really put into perspective how different this way of business—and life—is from how things function in most of the rest of the world. It’s this kind of cultural experience—one that could simply never exist in your home country—that makes travel so interesting, and it’s something that you really can’t fully understand until you’ve seen it with your own eyes.
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