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Old Cuba

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First visited by Christopher Columbus in 1492, its history of interaction with the Old World of Europe is among the longest in the Americas, and its architecture bears testament to this: Cuba is home to some of the most ancient cities and towns in the western hemisphere. As a result, the country once known as the “pearl of the Antilles,” stands now as a treasure chest of alluring historic architecture—seasoned by European precedents mixed with colonial and Caribbean spice—and boasts an extraordinary number of UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites, from the historic center of Old Havana with its original city walls and the Castillo de la Real Fuerza—the oldest extant colonial fortress in the Americas—to the sixteenth-century city of Trinidad, within the central Cuban province of Sancti Spíritus, recognized by historians and scholars as a triumph of historic preservation and whose maze of pastel mansions and churches forms one of the best collections of colonial architecture to be found anywhere.