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Parque Vidal is a park located in the center of Santa Clara, Cuba, that covers an entire square block. In the middle of it, the Glorieta (gazebo) erected in 1911 still serves for public concerts. The entire surrounding elements conformed by eclectic, neo classic and colonial buildings as well as the many monuments erected during different historic periods elevated the Park to a category of National Monument in a ceremony in 1998. It is also known with its old names of Plaza Central and Plaza Mayor.
Once a week, at night fall, the City’s Philharmonic Band reunites inside the structure and plays traditional music. North of the Glorieta, there is a standing bust in honor of Leoncio Vidal, the hero who died fighting in that very place against the Spanish forces, and for which the Park is named after. Next to it we find an obelisk, the first monument raised in the park, dedicated to the priest who migrated from the coastal town of Remedios with other families and founded the city. Between these monuments, we find the iconic statue of “el niño de la bota” (Child with a boot). The same way Havana has the statue of “La Giraldilla” as its landmark, Santa Clara has hers with “el niño de la bota”. This bronze statue depicts a boy with a boot in his hand from which the water runs out. The original base was changed for a more contemporary red granite in the 1960s and it remained that way until the 1990s when, in an effort to recover the original design, the city rebuilt it in its original form; however, the use of cheap materials has corroded the base. South of that statue we find another one: a 1924 bronze statue of Marta Abreu. She was much loved by the people of Santa Clara. The base of her statue is said to be a time capsule, since it has inside papers, magazines and objects collected during the construction and left inside it for future generations.
Bordering the park, we find the Santa Clara Libre Hotel (formerly the Santa Clara Hilton), considered by critics and the general population as the ugly duckling of the place. It offers an unbecoming contrast with all the surrounding architecture both in scale and design. Still, the building is rich in history. Legend has it that the break out of the 1959 revolution put on hold projects for higher towers in the plaza; these would have contributed to further destroying the existing beautiful colonial and eclectic architecture. The walls of the hotel still show multiple machine gun impacts from the attack of the rebel forces led by Che and Camilo back in the 1959 revolt. The Teatro de La Caridad (Charity’s Theater) is one of the 7 gems of rural Colonial Cuba. The Plaza Central Hotel, former City Hall and the Colonial de Santa Clara center of dance; in a corner stands the Museum of Decorative Arts, with one of the biggest collections of decorative arts of the colonies of the country. Parque Vidal offers the most attractive and unique traditional customs of hinterland Cuba.
- National Council for Cultural Heritage. "National Monuments in Cuba". Retrieved 2007-10-09. (Spanish)
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