Visitors to the Jardines Del Rey islands of Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Santa Maria often spend a day in Remedios, especially during the Christmas period. The city is famous for many things but primarily it’s the festivities around the December holidays. The abundance of Casa Particulars in Remedios also make Jardines del Rey a popular day out for tourists staying on the mainland.
Remedios is just 52km from the aforementioned Islands in Jardines del Rey, most of the distance being covered on the perfectly paved causeway, Remedios is an ideal place to visit to get a feel for the “Real Cuba” and Cubans. By visiting either Caibarien or Remedios, you’ll finally feel you’ve got the gist a morsel of Cuban Culture, even if it’s only for a day out. Remedios is also known as San Juan de los Remedios and is both a city and municipality, located just 3 miles (4.8 km) from the coast. Like Cayo Las Brujas, Remedios is part of the province of Villa Clara. Isabella II of Spain declared Remedios a City when Cuba was still a Spanish colony.
Remedios is world-famous for its Parrandas or carnivals, considered one of the Caribbean’s leading traditional festivities. The carnival is held each year around Christmas time with the streets starting to become “carnivalized” by mid December and the festivities continuing on into the New Year. It’s really something special, and worth your time if you’re in Cuba. To get to Remedios from Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Santa Maria or Cayo Ensenachos it will take less than an hour by car and the roads are beyond reproach, especially the pedraplen causeway, on which 90% of your journey will take place.
Remedios is a historically rich city with lots of heritage, the eighth oldest city in the Republic of Cuba and despite its small size of just 47,000 inhabitants, its a very attractive city. Cuban historians have estimated the foundation date of Remedios as being sometime between 1513 and 1524. It is assumed to have been founded by a Spanish nobleman named Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa on 13th of April 1514, however exact documentation supporting this has been obscured by time. Some documents that do exist, place this settlement as having been only preceded by Baracoa (1511) and Bayamo in 1512, so yes, this is a very old city indeed, for the Caribbean and the Americas as a whole. Many unofficial sources claim Remedios was founded before Trinidad (1514). Remedios has actually had a few different names over the past 500 or so years. The first was Santa Cruz de la Sabana then Santa Cruz de Vasco Porcallo and the penultimate, Santa Cruz de la Sabana del Cayo and, finally in 1578, San Juan de los Remedios de la Sabana del Cayo.
Remedios was declared National Historic Monument in 1980 by the Cuban Government, mainly because of its long and historic history. The city center is particularly attractive with its 17th century Spanish colonial architecture and beautifully ornate buildings. The main things to see in Remedios are the; Plaza Isabel II is the “Iglesia Mayor” of San Juan Bautista, which displays 13 marvelously decorated gold altars. This Parish Church is composed of the main church, Parroquial Mayor de San Juan Bautista, and a chapel known as Ermita del Buenviaje. The two religious structures are exemplary examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the Caribbean and must be seen to be appreciated. The bell towers of both the church and the chapel define the landscape of this historic Cuban city. Due to its proximity to the coast, Remedios was under regular siege by pirates and corsairs, François l’Olonnais being the most renowned of the bandits. During these decades, the gold altars were hidden under white paint. Another impressive church can be found on the north side of the square called the Iglesia del Buen Viaje or Church of the Good Journey. Remedios hold the odd accolade as being the only city in Cuba with two churches on its main square. The elegant Central Plaza or “Plaza Mayor” was renovated in the 1970s and is encircled by amazing colonial buildings, picturesque monuments, large trees, Cuban palms and a gazebo similar to those found in many cities in Cuba.
Remedios is nationally famous its Christmas festival and carnival “Las Parrandas de Remedios”, which officially takes place between the 16th to the 26th of December but celebrations begin before and go-on after these dates. Throughout the “parrandas”, there’s unparalleled rivalry between the neighborhoods of San Salvador, represented by the colors red and blue, and a rooster as a mascot, and El Carmen, represented by the color brown and a globe. The memory of the celebrations can be further investigated at the Museum of Parrandas, located in a 19th-century building since 1980. Here you’ll find photos, documents and hand-made objects; all linked to the carnivals festivities.
Visiting Remedios from the Jardines del Rey Islands mentioned above is not a big deal, pretty easy actually and well worth your time.