The highlight of my visit to Cienfuegos was our late afternoon lunch at the spectacular Palacio de Valle. Built in 1913 for the wealthy business tycoon Don Acisclo del Valle, the palace is an unbelievable mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Mudejar and Baroque styles influenced by Spain’s Moorish past. The palace was designed by an Italian architect, Alfredo Colli and took over four years to complete.
Today the Palacio de Valle is open to tourists at its lovely first floor restaurant and also holds various cultural events throughout the year. After traveling to the South of Spain and Morocco, I fell in love with the Moorish architecture of that part of the world and was a bit surprised to find it in Cuba.
The Palacio de Valle was my favorite building that I saw during my trip to Cuba due to its sheer beauty and architectural genius. The entire place is enchanting and the craftsmanship inside the palace’s interior is a feast for the eyes.
The exterior of the building is stunning and quite majestic. There is so much detail carved into the stone that it must have taken an army of workman to complete in only four years time.
I adored the stained glass windows and the intricate carvings surrounding the windows. When I stepped inside the palace, I was absolutely entranced by her beauty and could not stop taking pictures despite the lovely fragrant smells coming from the kitchen.
There is not an inch of space left undecorated. Every where you look it is utterly surreal.
We enjoyed a delightful lunch of lobster and other Cuban specialties eating until my heart’s desire. We had heard that Cuban food was actually rather boring and bland however everything we ate in Cuba was delicious and in huge, American-style portions. Looking around, it was all tourist groups like ours which is unfortunately quite common in Cuba. Prices at most restaurants are too high for the average Cuban giving their measly salary.
After lunch it was time to explore the best view in Cienfuegos, from the perch on the top. The staircase is equally as ornate and spectacular as the first floor of the palace.
On top of the Palacio de Valle sits the most spectacular balcony overlooking the entire bay. Legend says that the wealthy owner would spend hours on top this patio watching over the bay and taking his afternoon nap.
After lunch, it was time to leave Cienfuegos and head back to Havana. We only had a few more days in Cuba and I wasn’t ready to leave. Despite the country’s hardships, Cuba had cast a spell upon my imagination. I left knowing that someday I’d have to come back.