A Guide to Sites, Museums, and Memory

Town and Mine of El Cobre Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The town of El Cobre is 27 km from the city of Santiago de Cuba, which is the second largest city in Cuba today. El Cobre was formed along with the first open-air copper mine on the continent, but what makes the town a place of interest for domestic and foreign visitors today is the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity.

On May 10, 1916, Pope Benedicto XV (1854-1922) consecrated the virgin as the Patron of Cuba, which was crowned also by his Sanctity John Paul II (1920-2005) during his visit to the island in January 1998. The virgin appears with a crown and an aureole of 18-karat gold, encased in emeralds and rubies, and a golden dress on which is embroidered the shield of the Republic of Cuba with special threads. Every September 8th, a great mass of devotees visits the sanctuary in an act of faith to honor the virgin.

El Cobre also brings together groups with cultural values closely related to African cultures, including the community of El Cobre, which is linked with the early founding of the Mines of Santiago del Prado and the cobreros slave rebellion (1530-1800); the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, patroness of Cuba, that both represents Catholic patronage and, in the popular imagination, the Oshun deity of Santería, Chola Nwengue, and Yeyé of Gangá.

The sculpture of Alberto Lescay, "Memorial to the Rebellious Slave," was recently inaugurated in the presence of UNESCO officials. It is part of the Slave Route Project and culminates a process of historical recognition of rebellious Africans and their descendants in the area.

Town and Mine of El Cobreis part of the Slave Route Project, Cuba, network organized by the National Council of Cultural Patrimony in Havana, Cuba.

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