Top 5 best photographic places of Camagüey city.
Way less touristy than Havana and Trinidad and offers a gorgeous colonial architecture and unique traditions, providing a rich environment for photographer’s eyes. Camagüey is the 4th most populated city in Cuba and was one of the precious pearls of the Spanish metropolis in the XVIII and XIX centuries. It’s located in the east-center of the island and its flat landscape is ideal for cattle and sugar plantations. Their inhabitants called “camagueyanos” are highly educated and have always struggled to maintain their legacy intact, keeping strong cultural roots that contribute massively to the Cuban arts. Famous for its cobblestone street’s layout designed as a maze to lose invaders, this place worth to visit for at least three days. For those interested in capturing the essence through photography I suggest this top 5 places and activities you can photograph in this destination.
5. Colonial plazas.
The best way to do this is by renting a bicitaxy, one of the most popular ways to go around the historical center. This drivers charge 10cuc maximum for the entire ride. All these plazas, as usual in the Spanish colonies, have catholic churches and generally are named after them, great indoor pictures can be taken inside of these buildings. Plaza del Gallo for instance, is the interception of three of the busiest streets in the city, two of them are only pedestrian, the boulevard of República and Maceo street. The other one is Agramonte St. which is known as the cinema alley because everything is related to movies along two blocks from the plaza; Plaza San Juan de Dios is the best preserved XVIII century colonial environment of the city, surrounded by colorful and old facades and a nice handicraft market. In the afternoon you can find children playing football. This is a great spot for hunting with your camera some color contrasts and any crazy anachronism you could witness in such a place. Plaza del Carmen and Agramonte’s Park are the other two with the best chances for good photoshoots.
4. Photo shoot the rehearsal of dancing group. This activity requires to be arranged through Paradiso, which is a government run cultural tourism company, its office is in Ignacio Agramonte street #413, you can ask for Hugo there. Camaguey is big in dancing; several of this groups are very important in the country such as The Classical Ballet of Camaguey, Folkloric Dance Group, Arlequin Group (most accessible one) and others. Request one of the three mentioned before, they are amazing. The logistics for moving them out of their usual rehearsal facility is big and more expensive, their typical location might not be the ideal background for photos so it’s a little bit of a challenge. Regular cost depends on how many people are assisting, it can go from 5cuc to 15cuc per person.
3. Street photography is highly recommended in Cuba, generally Cuban people are happy, cooperative and they like to be photographed, excellent opportunity to take portraits and get really close to the subjects. Camaguey is not the exception and offers excellent photogenic sceneries in the streets off the historical center. Explore the perimeter comprehended between Francisquito, Simoni, Damas, Matadero and Pobre streets; take as well Cristo St. all the way to the General Cemetery of Camaguey which is the oldest operational graveyard in Cuba, this one opens every day from 8:00am to 5:00pm and it’s another good site for photography.
2. Mercado agropecuario “El Hueco” named “The Hole” because is in a lower level area next to Hatibonico river beside the Carretera Central near the end of 24 de Febrero street. This open air farmers market has concrete stalls and semi-permanent shops selling fruits, vegetables, herbal medicine, meat, coffee, confectionery, pickle, among others. The produce is openly exhibited to attract the customers; some other workers go around with wheelbarrows caring the goods from one spot to the other. Lot of action and lot of people although is big enough to not feel hammed in. Piles of beans of different color, tons of garlic and onion, colorful vegetables and fruits, it’s a feast for photographers. I recommend to go on weekend and around 8:00am, earlier if possible, it’s hard to take pictures when the light is strong because there is a lot of shade and bright around.
1. Carnival San Juan Camagueyano. It’s yearly celebrated from the 24th to 29th of June, sometimes the dates change so it’s better to check it out beforehand. This is no longer a religious festivity although keeps the original City’s Patron Saint name. The carnival is full of traditions like parades, costumes and the very famous ornate lighted floats. They also celebrate the children carnival on Sunday where the little ones play the main role. This is an explosion of energy, colors, shapes and sweat to be captured with your camera, so be ready.