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Granma Province in southeastern Cuba is the heartland of Cuban independence. In 1868 Carlos Manuel de Cespedes rang the Demajagua bell on his estate near Manzanillo to signal the freeing of his slaves and the start of the First War of Independence. The city of Bayamo soon became a center of the uprising, and the present Cuban national anthem, La Bayamesa, was first sung there.

The Spanish put down the Cuban fighters a decade later, but in 1895 the exiled leader Jose Marti returned to launch the Second War of Independence. Though Marti was shot and killed during a brief clash with the Spanish at Dos Rios, his goal was attained in 1898 when Cuba won its independence.

The Cuban Revolution itself began in this province in 1956 when Fidel Castro and 82 others dissembarked from the yacht Granma near Cabo Cruz. (The current Cuban national newspaper, Periodico Granma Internacional, takes its name from the same source as the province.) Castro's guerilla base in the Sierra Maestra mountains was supported by clandistine revolutionaries in Manzanillo led by Celia Sanchez, who became Fidel's secretary after 1959.

Today a number of appealing Caribbean beach resorts are near Pilon south of Manzanillo, but this little known province stands out as an ecotourism destination and a place of historical pilgrimage.

All the photos on are by David Stanley, original author of Lonely Planet Cuba.
The images on this page are details. To view the complete photos, click on the thumbnails.

Parque Cespedes in Granma Province's
capital city Bayamo is a nice place to relax.
Cuba welcomes visitors. This Caribbean country offers a unique and very different travel experience.

This obelisk at Dos Rios marks the spot where Jose Marti fell in 1895.

The Caribbean resort of Hotel Farallon del Caribe faces the Sierra Maestra.

The Moorish-style bandshell in Parque Cespedes, Manzanillo.

The independence bell at La Demajagua, rung by Cespedes in 1868.

A ceramic mural at Manzanillo in honour of the Celia Sanchez.

A vendor selling pru, a sweet drink made from roots and herbs.

A banyan beginning to strangle its host tree on a trail near Cabo Cruz.

Mangrove forests provide a habitat and prevent erosion.