Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, Cuba
This cemetery is home to the remains of important Cuban figures, including Jose Martí and Manuel Céspedes. Time your visit with the guard-changing ceremony at Martí’s tomb, which happens every 30 minutes.
The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery is located on the western outskirts of Santiago de Cuba. This cemetery was created in 1868 in the wake of the War of Independence, and over the next century it gradually grew in size and importance. It now has over 8,000 tombs.
The most important tomb here is that of Jose Martí. Built in 1951, this large mausoleum has a hexagonal tower that allows Martí’s coffin to always receive sunlight. A Cuban flag covers his coffin. Military guards are present 24/7 and perform a shift-changing ceremony every 30 minutes. During the ceremony, solemn music is played as the costumed guards goose-step their way to the front of the mausoleum. It’s a fascinating sight.
Other notable tombs include Emilio Bacardí (of the famous rum family), Tomás Estrada Palma (the first president of Cuba), and Compay Segundo (the famous singer/guitarist of the Buena Vista Social Club). The cemetery is also the final resting place for heroes from the attack on the Moncada and the War of Independence.
Like other Cuban attractions, this cemetery is best explored with a guide.