Santa Clara was a dynamic and relatively “prosperous city” for Cuban concepts. Santa Clara is the capital city of the Cuban province of Villa Clara. It`s located in the most central region of the province and almost in the most central region of the country. With a population near a quarter million; 242,402 people at the beginning of 2013, it`s the 5th largest Cuban city by population. It has the second university in the country and has an important cultural center. In the center is the park “Parque Vidal” where it`s lovely to sit on a bench and enjoy everything that happens around you. Single people come to this park to stroll and meet others. The bullet holes from the revolution are still visible in the walls of Hotel Santa Clara Libre. Santa Clara was founded by 175 people on July 15, 1689. One hundred and thirty-eight of them were represented by two large families already living in the area and, therefore, owners of the land next to the new city. The other 37 came from 7 other families, a priest and a governor, all of them originating in the coastal city of “San Juan de los Remedios”.
Santa Clara was the site of the last battle in the Cuban Revolution in late 1958. There were two guerrilla columns that attacked the city, one led by Ernesto Che Guevara and the other led by Camilo Cienfuegos. Guevara’s column first captured the garrison at Fomento. Then, using a bulldozer, Guevara’s soldiers destroyed railroad tracks and derailed a train full of troops and supplies sent by Batista. At the same time, Cienfuegos’s column defeated an army garrison at the Battle of Yaguajay not far from town. On December 31, 1958, the combined forces of Guevara and Cienfuegos (along with other revolutionaries under William Alexander Morgan) attacked Santa Clara. The battle was chaotic, the defenders were demoralized, some fought, others surrendered without a shot. By the afternoon, the city was captured. This victory for Castro’s troops is seen as the decisive moment in the Cuban Revolution as Batista fled Cuba less than 12 hours later.
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