Monumento Nacional Bariay Park
Nature loves rejoice—the Parque Monumento Nacional Bariay, located some 37 kilometres north of the nearest major city of Holguín, truly contains some of the most astounding nature gathered in one spot found anywhere in Cuba.
Spread out along some 40 kilometres of coastline, visitors to the park can find sand and stone beaches and mangrove complexes, while inland the park is home to both evergreen and semi-deciduous forests in primary and secondary states of growth. All in all, the park counts among its offerings over 350 species of flora—not to mention all of the animals that call this place home!
The park, which contains thirteen beaches, three rivers, offshore cays, and interesting geological features including over 100 caves, also enjoys proximity with a number of other natural parks and preserves. It’s primarily renowned for its nature, but that’s not all it has to offer.
Historical and Cultural Monuments
By far the park’s largest and most immediately recognizable man-made site is the Monument to the Meeting of the Two Cultures. Designed by local Holguín artist Caridad Ramos, the piece was erected in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of this momentous occurrence. The monument uses European-style architecture—neoclassical columns, in particular—and different indigenous constructions and artefacts to abstractly depict the moment in which these two worlds came into contact with one another. Some see the result as a bit overstated and gaudy for the park’s natural settings, but nevertheless it’s an immediately eye-catching piece of work whose image will stay with you well after you leave the park.
Other monuments to be found here include a seaside statue of Christopher Columbus himself—who made landfall on Cuba not far from this site—and a buoy placed a bit out to sea located at what some historians argue was a spot where Columbus’s ships once docked.
Other attractions in the Parque Monumento Nacional Bariay include a Taíno indigenous village—frequently home to different indigenous cultural and educational events—and the Spanish fort, a small wooden construction dating back to Cuba’s war for independence. The latter is home to a number of artefacts from the last years of Spain’s control of the island. Finally, the park also hosts a small restaurant—nothing to write home about, but certainly a decent spot for a meal if you’re getting hungry around midday!
For nature lovers especially, the Parque Monumento Nacional Bariay is a “can’t miss”, but for anyone in the Holguín area this park is undeniably worth a visit—historical monuments and cultural events abound in addition to the park’s natural wonders. If you’re looking for a great Holguín area day trip, look no further!
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