Quote — Saint-Exupéry
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© Robin Thom Photography • ] • Cuba Cardenas © Frank Buschhuter, panoramio,.com
Cárdenas supplies part of Varadero in labor. It boasts nice examples of neo-classic architectura (superb patios, high windows, detailed motifs) some dating to the town's founding in 1828 and a fascinating history linked to the first rhum factory and the first vacationers on the Hicacos Peninsula (Varadero).

During our Cardenas
dog day afternoon, we saw half-drunk, red faced, bare pot-bellied, 9cuc-per-hour scooter buzzing jimbos looking for their way out of hotter than hell streets.

Seriously, Cuba's flag was raised here for the first time in 1850. The
first electric tramways started here. Second only to Bacardi, one of Cuba's largest rum distillery Ron Arrechabala (founded 1878) was established here. Other town firsts include the first electric power plant and the first gynaecological clinic.

Its owner created the Havana Club brand which infamous Bacardi claimed was theirs but after a years-long
legal battle in Europe and the US, Pernod-Ricard in partnership with Cuba got rightful ownership of the brand.

sleepy town used to live off two sugar mills (José Smith Comas and Humberto Alvarez) in the area but now, there's only nearby Varadero's tourist industry and a few of the fishermen's catches.

Its citizens use the horse-drawn taxis to get around. Most ride bikes.
Hasta la bicicleta siempre !

Seamos realistas, pedimos el impossible.

Before the Revolucion, the city was the largest port of Cuba. From 1878, the Arechabala rum distillery established by Jose Arechabala y Aldama was one of the largest employers on the island with its 1.024 trabajadores who distilled rum, made sugar, syrup, honey, candy, brandy, cognac and imported and distributed gin, whiskey and wines.

But the U.S. prohibition (1919-1933), a scandal of shady promoters who pocketed $ 700,000 to redo the port, a murder and a kidnapping of family members, the 1929 crash contributed to Cardenas losing its industrial shine and importance. In addition, the port became unusable due to its lack of depth.

In 1926, arrives an Arechabala nephew, Jose Fermin (Josechu) Iturrioz Llaguno who joins with a brilliant engineer, Manuel F. Arias. So at the age of 36, Josechu takes the reins of the family industries and transforms the city port, launches the Havana Club label in 1935, relaunching its businesses and modernizes its plants, despite two deadly hurricanes.

As business is going well, Josechu builds, a few miles away, a family compound with houses, a lagoon and a park. He gives it the name JosOne, acronym of the name of his great-uncle and great aunt. One can see it today in Varadero. A sort of famous Cardenas resident long worked there as a waiter : the father of Elian Gonzalez.

Josechu died in exile in New York on New Year's Day 1960, having been driven from his city and its expropriated and nationalized industries - without compensation - by the barbudos he had elected to reject with the help of Bacardi.

Today on calle Pinillos on the corner of calle Sáez, remains the distillery which was the most prominent of the island, "La Vizcaya" along with Bacardi in Santiago. However, the two names banded together to fight Cuba and Pernod-Ricard before US courts about the rights to the Havana Club name and so are hidden — sadly and to the detriment of all — from the modern history books of the island.

Map - City with cultural spots, old photos and casas
Map - Architectural & Landscape Guide - 17 spots
Map - Detailed city plan with burroughs and casas
Centro Circuits - Itins & Top Casas
Tramways of yesteryear
Varadero detailed map
Island-wide bus connections (horariodebuses.com/)
Daily currency exchange rates
Robin Thom's fabulous pictures of the town
Rising and downward tides for Cardenas
Arechabala & Bacardi fighting over Havana Club
All that's natural in Matanzas province

All the Web particuba.net
Bay of Pigs (Playa Larga), 93
Cienfuegos, 165
Colon, 60
Corralillo, 74
Jagüey Grande, 66
Jovellanos, 29
Las Morlas, 34
La Habana, 138
Matanzas, 43
Máximo Gomez, 26
Playa Girón, 127
San Miguel de los Baños, 25
Santa Clara, 170
Trinidad, 250
Varadero, 12


1960 Intl Women's Day poster, by Eliado Rivadulla (1923-2011)
Map of province
POPULATION 107,085 (2007) in Cardenas Municipio (regional township)

Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion (stained glass with Cristobal Colon still standing in front, overlooking his namesake Parque since 1862) Hotel La Dominica (National monument where the city was founded) was planned to be renovated to be the city's first hotel but the deal fell through with Spanish investors late 2008 Museo a la Batalla de Ideas (superb views, odd statue of boy throwing a Superman doll... Elian ?); avenida 6, e/11 y 12 Museo Casa Natal José Antonio Echevarria (student killed by Batista's henchmen in 1957) Museo Óscar María de Rojas (natural history and geology : a curious if not totally strange arrangement of fleas, fossils, a horsetail and a rarity, guides who know their stuff) on Plaza Echevarria, avenida 4 este, corner calle 12 Plaza Echevarría with statue of José Antonio Echevarria Plaza Malacoff (50-foot high dome, metal-framed building) now a fruit and vegetable market as it was meant to be in 1859 Fabrica de Ron Arechabala (first home of Havana Club rum; tours 3 cuc) Galeria de Arte Salon Massaguner on avenida Cespédes features paintings from provincial artists San Miguel de los Baños, 25 (swimming pool, Loma de Jacán) Libreria La Concha de Venus, Cespedes 551, esquina calle 12

All those of Peninsula de Hicacos, where Varadero spreads its resorts over 17 km. Playa Larga (not the one on the bay of Pigs, 93 km south). Varadero - The beginning of the Peninsula de Hicacos is at Santa Maria (bridge), or 8 km from Cardenas. Varadero Las Morlas, the very end of Hicacos is 34 km away

Top choices : Retiro Estangel (Angelo) Calle Spriu, 656, Casa Espriu (Plaza Echeverria, calle 12, e/4 y6), El Viajero (esquina 13 y 13, in moneda nacional), Casa de las Infusiones, Cafeteria La Cubanita on Plaza Malacoff, El Rapido, Los Almendros, Las Palmas, Pizzeria La Bolognesa Paladares La Barra 1470 (calle 13 e/ 6 y 7)

Local Yoga Instructor Pablo c/o Iglesia Reflexion y Dialogo Ave. Céspedes No. 1210 e/ Calle 25 y 26 Hourly buses to Varadero (6cuc) ; three dailies from La Habana ; regular service for Jaguey Grande (junction with the trans-island autopista), Jovellanos, Matanzas, Santa Clara (10cuc), Trinidad (18cuc) Local train between Cardenas, Jovellanos and Colon. Horse-drawn collective taxis available most everywhere.

Viazul's Ruta 56 goes by here on its way to and from Santiago de Cuba - Click for details
Cathedral and two ways to get there © juanperez.com
The Cathedral dates from 1846 and two ways to get around this town, both ecological. } Same picture in April 2009 © Frank Buschhutter panoramio

This 1980 stamp is a reminder of the glory days of the local naval yards which were the most important when post-Revolucion Cuba decided to build a fleet of fishing boats — now decimated, mostly through mismanagement and corruption, alas.
Cardenas, Cuba © fesign, flickr.com
End of November yearly rail festival at what used to be the operating sugar mill CAI Jose Smith Comas — now
Museo UEB Turismo Azucarero © internationalsteam dot co dot uk } The center of town railway station building ©

During the US colony heyday — here in the Twenties — the vast Teatro Arechabala (same name as the rhum factory) was the scene of some giant gatherings of the local ruling class and its employees, clients and families.
Scène de rue © Îles à rêver
Elian Gonzalez back with his dad. Taken in exile by his mother Elizabeth Brotons on November 22 1999, the child (28 years of age in 2021, studied Engineering) became media fodder and his exiled family's trophy. US Secretary of Justice had to forcefully seize Elian and fly him back to his rightful parent 8 months later. } At Museo a la Batalla de Ideas, opened in 2001 Elian's story and other contemporary US low blows are presented in "other side of the coin" fashion © Michelle Tisdel Flikke

At the top of its glory in 1953, Cardenas had been revitalized, its port had a new levy and most, thanks to the leadership of the Arechabalas.
Ciné Cardenas. Postcard from the Fifties. Guije.com
Ciné Cardenas. Postcard from the Fifties } Same perspective today

Jewel in the Arechabala family crown, symbol of the pre-Revolucion success of Cuban entrepreneurship by a hard-working Spanish immigrant who landed
in 1878, the large distillery La Vizcaya. In 1934, it created the Havana Club brand. More about crime in exile, the preposterous Bacardi act and litigation here.

One of the rare Cuban cities to elevate the bike to its well-deserved height, the best means of transport in the history of humanity, la bicicleta © Robin Thom - Click to see more photos of Cardenas

In 1850, Narciso Lopez disembarked in Cardenas, bringing a flag which would be hoisted for the first time in Cuba and which became a symbol of the fight for independence from Spain.

"There are about 300,000 cuentapropistas — small business owners in Cuba" - now 600,000 (May 2021) © Meridith Kohut, New York Times - Click for December 2014 NYT article.
::: Since January 2021, the CUC (Cuban Convertible) currency no longer is valid; all tourist services are payable only in foreign currency, cash or credit card. ::: Bring cash Euros or US dollar$, etc because Cuban banks and Foreign Exchange Bureaus (CADECA) will only exchange your currency (CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, JPY, MXN, USD) for the local currency - the CUP (US$1 = 24 CUP) which might be useful for local stuff; get other details here. ::: Make sure that in your first email or phone call you specify that you want to book a room in that particular casa and that you will reconfirm your booking on arrival in Cuba::: So as to not abandon expecting owners with empty rooms, reconfirm (or call ahead to cancel) your booking by phone as soon as you can after arriving in Cuba ::: Please write or phone a casa owner to cancel a booking. As late as it may seem, it allows them a chance to rebook. ::: Children under the age of 16 may share a bedroom with adults for free. Specify the child's age when booking. ::: At the end of the casa name, the V signals the casa was suggested by travelers or owners but not verified by us in person. If you try it and like it, write us about it. ::: Unless otherwise mentioned, the average room rates and service prices are : 25-30
€/US$ per bedroom per night [up to 40€/US$+ for 4 in a room]; breakfasts 3-5€/US$, dinners 8-15€/US$. ::: Any casa particular anywhere in Cuba must have a hot water shower, otherwise it cannot have a permit to rent ::: Please share your Complaints, comments & suggestions webmaster [@]cubacasas.net

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• From Canada and the USA : 011 53 (add phone # preceded by 52 for Cardenas) • From Europe, Great Britain, Scandinavia and Mexico : 00 53 (add phone # preceded by 52 for Cardenas). ••• HOW TO DIAL A CUBAN PHONE NUMBER HERE ••• CELL PHONE NUMBERS on our town lists and casa pages are preceded by 0 for calls originating Havana; from anywhere else in Cuba, dial 01 + the 8 digits of the cell.

Click on logo to open a message addressed to that casa in your email application; or right-click to copy address. Spanish vocabulary here.

Two aircon bedrooms, ensuite baths, pool
Palma (avenida 31) #785, entre Minerva (calle 16) y Mercedes (calle 17), 17 blocks from Plaza del Mercado. Cell France 53 11 91 52 or Pedro 53 12 05 94

France y Pedro


Two aircon bedrooms, ensuite baths, patio
Palma (avenida 31) #520, e/Industria (calle 11) y Coronel Verdugo (calle 12), 13 blocks from Plaza del Mercado. Cell. 58 90 13 57

Ricardo Dominguez © sogestour

Two ac bedrooms, ensuites, pool, patio, meals
Espriu (avenida 14) #656, e/ Velázquez (calle 14) y Cristina (calle 15), 4 blocks from Parque Estrada Palma, the Museo and the Teatro Cell 52 84 91 08

Upstairs, two ac br's, ensuites, balcony, patio
Garcia (avenida 21) #727, e/ Cristina (calle 15) y Minerva (calle 16), 10 blocks from Plaza del Mercado Cell 52 68 46 45

Daisy penate © sogestour

Two ac bedrooms, shared bath
Campina (avenida 29) #533, e/ Coronel Verdugo (calle 12) y Calzada (calle 13), 12 blocks from Plaza del Mercado. Cell. 52 70 31 55

Rolando Valdes Lara © sogestour

Upstairs, one vast ac bedroom, ensuite, balcony
Calzada (calle 13) #368, e/Phinney (avenida 15) y Saez (avenida 13), 5 blocks from Plaza del Mercado. Cell 53 52 15 59 or 52 80 54 97


Footprint Handbook (FH), GéoGuide (GG), Lonely Planet (LP), Petit Futé (PF)
::: FH : Chez France, Angelo's, Hostal Ida, Casa Grillo, Hostal Relax ::: GG : Hostal Angelo ::: LP : Hostal Ida, Ricardo Dominguez ::: PF : Ricardo Dominguez 150118


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Updated 08.06.2021
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