Santiago de Cuba with almost half a million inhabitants, is the second most populous Cuban city and one of the oldest in the whole island of which it was the capital, before Havana. It was founded in 1515 by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, obtaining the title of city from Charles V in 1522. Two important expeditions started from its port: in Mexico (1518) and in Florida (1538). It soon became the main center of Cuba, was replaced as the actual capital of the island by Havana in 1553. It preserves several vestiges of the Iberian colonization, including the cathedral, various administrative buildings and the governors' residences. It was badly damaged by two earthquakes, produced in 1675 and in 1679. Historically it has always played a central role in the political-military life of the island and later of the nation; although situated in a fairly well defensible bay, it was often the object of a pirate raid, and for this reason it was equipped with a well-equipped port and fortifications, which nowadays have become tourist attractions. The most famous of these is the Castle of San Pedro de la Roca, a fortress that in 1997 was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Book your hotel in SANTIAGO DE CUBA with TRAVELNETCUBA at the best price.