Camagüey's casco histórico (old quarter) is the primary draw, and most sights of interest are within easy walking distance of its epicenter, just north and west of the Hatibonico River. The historic zone represents one of the largest colonial sectors in Cuba, spread over 300 hectares (741 acres), and Camagüey boasts more than a dozen colonial churches. As in Havana, the office of the city historian is actively engaged in restoring as many of the city's historic buildings as it can manage, and by law, all businesses in the district contribute 2% of their revenues toward the restoration cause. During 2010, Calle Maceo was being converted into a pedestrian boulevard and the Plaza Maceo was being repaired.
Parque Agramonte, which occupies the spot where the old Plaza de Armas existed in 1528, shortly after the transfer of the city to its present location, is the best place to get your bearings. In its center is a bronze and pink granite equestrian statue of the most famous citizen of Camagüey, Ignacio Agramonte. Each corner of the park is marked by a tall royal palm, planted to pay tribute to four local martyrs of the struggle for independence, who were executed in the square by Spanish forces for treason. The park is an agreeable spot, with elegant street lamps and marble benches popular with locals. It is flanked by attractive colonial houses, including the Casa de la Trova (where live traditional Cuban music can be heard daily), and the early-18th-century Catedral on the south side. The church is a good example of the city's ongoing efforts to resurrect neglected historic buildings. Dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, patron saint of Camagüey, the cathedral has been transformed, in the span of less than 3 years, from a dull and uninspiring church to an attractively austere house of worship, showing off beautiful vigas (wood ceiling beams). It is open Monday to Friday from 8-11:45am and 2-5pm, Saturday 3-4pm and Sunday 8-11:30am. Climb the tower (CUC$5) for wonderful photo opportunities.
Calle Maceo, just north of Parque Agramonte, is the city's principal shopping avenue, a busy pedestrian artery stuffed with shops and bars. The other principal reference point of downtown Camagüey is the much-trafficked, but disappointingly pedestrian Plaza de los Trabajadores (Workers' Square). On it are two of the city's more important sights: the birth house of Ignacio Agramonte, and the church of La Merced.
Southeast of the historic core, across the unspectacular Hatibonico River, lies Casino Campestre, the largest natural city park in Cuba. Inaugurated in 1860, it was transformed into a public park at the beginning of the 20th century. Its tall, shady royal palms, public monuments, and children's attractions make it a favorite with Camagüeyanos. Nearby, on the other side of the Cándido González baseball stadium, is the Plaza de la Revolución, a massive but cold square honoring Cuba's revolutionary legends past and present: Agramonte, Che, and Fidel. Pope John Paul II said Mass at this spot in 1998.
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