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Thursday, June 25, 2015


North side of Parque Vidal (looking West) in central Santa Clara, Cuba.
Photo: Phyllis Shess
Editor’s note: On a daily basis from June 1 thru June 30, 2015 Pillar to Post online magazine is featuring articles, photos and insights resulting from a recent group tour, an adventure we dubbed: the April 23 Brigade’s Tour of Cuba 2015. 

Named for Colonel Leoncio Vidal y Caro, a late 19th century Cuban war hero, Parque Vidal, is a kaleidoscope of activity in the middle of Santa Clara, Cuba.

Covering a square block, this main plaza, is flanked by iconic colonial era buildings like the neoclassical Palacio Provincial, La Caridad Theatre, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the neighborhood’s Jolly green giant in the form of the 10-story Santa Clara Libre Hotel (formerly a Hilton).  The Art Deco hotel still bears the bullet hole scars from a famed 1959 battle of the Revolution fought in the plaza, a skirmish led by Che Guevera.

Bullet holes remain atop
Santa Clara Libre Hotel 
At the square’s hub, is a concert gazebo (called Glorietta), where the philharmonic has been offering early evening concerts on Thursdays and Sundays since the early 20th century.
Today, the square remains an unchanged meeting place for the locals of all ages.  Children circle the park in carts pulled by obedient goats, while families gather on shaded benches and vendors peddle crafts.

In 2012, two blocks to the Northwest of Parque Vidal, an older hotel was refurbished into, the Hotel America, which now serves downtown Santa Clara with a needed modern hotel and quality restaurant.

Glorietta Gazebo facing Northwest toward the 10-story Santa Clara Libre Hotel
Photo: Michael Shess

Old city hall, now Jose Marti Library is on the East side
of Parque Vidal (looking northeast).
Northeast corner of plaza.
Photo: Phyllis Shess
Photo: Phyllis Shess, 2015
Vendors Northside of Parque Vidal
Photo: Phyllis Shess
Photo: Phyllis Shess
Southwest corner of Parque Vidal looking to the Southeast. Iconic La Caridad Theatre (left).

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