Loma De La Cruz (Hill of the Cross)
The Loma de la Cruz has been declared an Archaeological-Colonial Historical Monument of the island of Cuba and tops the list of places to go in Holguín.
It gained its name, which means "the Hill of the Cross" when the a cross was placed here by friar Francisco Antonio de Alegría in 1790. A wooden cross (the third so far) remains to this day and is the depository for many hopes, dreams and wishes of the local people.
The hill itself rises 261 metres (856 ft) above sea level to the north of the city of Holguín and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
Site of local legends
It is said that after friar Francisco Antonio de Alegría climbed the hill with his cross on his back, the hill lost its original name of "Bayado Hill" to take a new one: Loma de la Cruz. The friar established a religious celebration, the Romerías de Mayo, which was celebrated on the anniversary of the placing of the cross and in memory of Santa Elena, mother of Constantine the Great, who died Calvary on the cross.
Restoration works were instigated in the early 20th century by Oscar Albanés, a local historian, founder of the Science Library of Holguín and neighbour of Loma de la Cruz. These works concluded on 3 May 1950, the day of the installation of the second cross at the summit to replace the first, which was in a dilapidated state.
This one was replaced in the early 1990s, after the second cross was hit by lightning.
The historical site today
The cross which visitors can see today is the third, made from local caguairán wood; like the first cross back in the 18th century. This hard and resistant wood is plentiful in the Holguín region.
Access to the summit is via 458 steps, with viewpoints and benches on the way up, making it a manageable hike even for those less used to hill walking. A road climbs up the back of the hill, for those who prefer a more leisurely ascent. At the summit is a restaurant and tourist complex and viewing platforms which offer stunning views over Holguín.
The May Festival is still celebrated every year on the hill, involving a procession up to the summit.
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