Irregular urban plan of Camagüey: Exceptional architecture in Latin America (+ Photos)Publicado: junio 15, 2021
By Lázaro David Najarro Pujol
June, 2021.- Camagüey, city of churches and tinajones, like Trinidad, Havana and Cienfuegos, its oldest segment is Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The once Villa de Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe is among the first seven towns founded by the Spanish in Cuba.
The region of shepherds and hats, described as such by the National Poet of Cuba, Nicolás Guillén, played an essential role as an urban center of a territory in the interior of the country, devoted to livestock and the sugar industry.
Unesco took into consideration a group of criteria for inscription to grant Camaguey the status that declares the oldest segment as an exceptional World Heritage Site.
Once installed in its current location in 1528, the city develops on an irregular urban layout that includes a system of squares and squares, winding streets and alleys and irregular blocks of houses, rare in the colonial cities of Latin America located in level ground.
In addition, the religious constructions, associated with the main squares, mark a system of references within the urban fabric, characterized by its homogeneity. The architectural values are incorporated with the typical residential architecture typologies and with the constant use of construction materials and techniques, particularly with the frequent use of clay elements, which reveal the influences of Andalusia.
The use of pillars attached to the entrance of the houses and of the clay containers to store the water are some of the characteristics that distinguish the residential architecture of Camagüey. The historic center continues to perform its function as the heart of the city and is the place where cultural and social activities take place.
Meanwhile, Criterion (IV) ponders that the historic center of Camagüey constitutes an exceptional urban architectural type in Latin America, with its irregular urban plan that produced an unusual system of squares and squares, winding streets and alleys, blocks of houses and of parcel systems. The monumental and residential architecture forms a homogeneous urban fabric where it is possible to observe the architectural expressions that correspond to different periods of the city’s evolution.
Criterion (V): The historic center of Camagüey constitutes an exceptional example of a traditional urban installation relatively isolated from the main roads where the Spanish settlers were subjected to the medieval European urban influences visible in the outline of the urban fabric, as well as the traditional construction techniques brought to America by the first masons and master builders.
The property proposed for inscription is of an appropriate size and has all the necessary elements to guarantee the integrity of the historic center. The permanence of the original urban plan, the types of architecture and materials, the traditional craft techniques, the uses and the spirit allows the historic center to respond to the required conditions of authenticity. The legal protection, as well as the instruments and the management system, have proven to be effective in ensuring the proper conservation of the area proposed for inscription and its buffer zone.
The City of Tinajones and torrential churches is among the themes of the ceramist from Camagüey Ramón Guerra, who, in his works, in one way or another reflects the labyrinthine streets, the church towers and the old architecture. (Photos by the author)(Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez)