Santiago de Cuba was the hometown of poet José María Heredia. It houses a museum that displays the extensive art collection of the Bacardí family.
Santiago de Cuba is well known for its cultural life. Some of Cuba's most famous musicians, including Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer and Eliades Ochoa (all of whom participated in the Buena Vista Social Club) and trova composer Ñico Saquito (Benito Antonio Fernández Ortiz) were born in the city or in one of the villages surrounding it. They have contributed to the typical, country-like music of the city.
Furthermore, Santiago de Cuba is well known for its traditional dances, most notably son, from which salsa has been derived, and guaguancó, which is accompanied by percussion music only. The city is also well known for its Carnival, which is strangely enough celebrated in July. During Carnival, traditional conga music is played in the streets on a traditional pentatonic trumpet, called the trompeta china.
Children Playing Chess on the Street - Santiago de Cuba
A relatively high number of residents of the city adhere to Afro-Cuban religions, most notably santería. The city hosts an important community of descendants from Haitian immigrants from the 19th century. Some aspects of the religious "vodún" heritage of the city can be traced back to this community.
In the city there are multiple architectural styles, from Baroque to neoclassical. Of special interest are the wooded parks, the steep streets, colonial buildings with huge windows and crowded balconies. Preserved historical treasures include the first home in the Americas, the first cathedral in Cuba, the first copper mine opened in the Americas and the first Cuban museum.