The Sacred Walk & Drive - detailed description


Read more about religion in Cuba and about The Sacred Walk & Drive 

There has been an indigenous religion, that of Taíno Indians, but from 1514 onwards it was the Roman Catholic church that let the church bells ring. 

The rich Roman life established churches and cathedrals in order to give shape to their devotion. Without realizing it, the settlers imported from 1770 another religion from West Africa, that of the Yoruba (or Lucumí), imported as slaves to work on the tobacco and sugar cane plantations. Honoring their religion and traditions was forbidden by the Spaniards and the Yoruba were forced to reform.

During this church reform, they hear the stories from the Bible, which they modeled according to their own faith. They identify the Creator, the Biblical God with their supreme god (Olorun or Obdumare), angels and saints with the orishas who each manifest an aspect of the supreme God.
The biblical Mary is associated with Yemayá, orisha of the seas and fertility.

This fusion of religions is called syncretism. The Cuban variant is Santería or Regla de Ocha, and although there are clearly Roman elements, other rituals reign. During the ceremonies (Bembés) you’ll hear a different beat, after centuries of secret oral tradition Santería is unprecedentedly popular in Cuba. Almost everyone consults a Santería priest (Babalao) once in a while.

There are also smaller religious communities, including Russian Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, Bahá'í, and Protestants. Especially the evangelical communities are doing well. What all have in common is that they practice in a country that is officially atheistic.

In 1959, with the arrival of the rebels, the Catholic Church was banned. Only since 1998, after the first visit of Pope John Paul, Christmas is celebrated again on the island. 

We’ll go on a pilgrimage with a devoted guide that will explain more.

Lunchtime

The included lunch will be served in the restaurant of your choice (you can find the options here. The guide will say goodbye. Process your impressions at ease and refuel for the afternoon program.

At 02.30pm our driver picks you up for a ride. Having seen this morning religious institution in the inner city, you’ll be visiting two related locations in the districts Vedado and Centro Habana. Board the beautifully restored classic car and take in what you see.

The afternoon ride will take you to ...

... the Vedado district, where yellow walls with Greek crosses are rising up. What would be behind those walls? 
According to Enrique Martínez y Martínez, it is the most remarkable religious construction of 19th century Cuba. This is a religion tour, so we believe him on his word. We’ll have to go there and see it for ourselves.

It is the walls of El Cementerio (Necrópolis) de Cristóbal Colón, perhaps the most important cemetery in Latin America in the fields of architecture, sculpture and religious history. Certainly, one of the most beautiful in the world.

Colón is large (122.5 hectares) and overwhelming on several fronts. More than 800,000 graves, 500 mausoleums, family graves, works of art themselves, richly ornamented, mostly by famous sculptors.
Crosses, images of angels and heralds as a devout ode to God and yet exuberant. An imagined historiography of Catholicism of the distant colony. The central chapel, inspired by the Cathedral of Florence, proudly in the center but in the colors of a children's ice cream, Cuban Catholicism.

A geometric 'road pattern' traverses a majestic miniature 'town' full of powerful monuments. Also, sometimes decayed graves, which in their way tell the story of impermanence.

After this ride, we are back in the historic center unless you want to be dropped off elsewhere.

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