Visit to Fidel’s Old Command Center

Photo feature by Elio Delgado

Fidel's Old Command Post
Fidel's Old Command Post

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 18 – In our journey to get to La Plata, the former mountain base of Fidel Castro back in the days of the Cuba’s guerilla war in the Sierra Maestra mountain range, we went through the rural community of Santo Domingo.  This is where the principal checkpoint of Turquino National Park is located.

Further on, we ran into a narrow road with tight curves, where every inch of the way was threatened by large stones randomly falling from the mountain.  In this way we made it to the second checkpoint, where we left our vehicles and made the first three kilometers on foot into the Sierra Maestra.

There, we arrived at the third checkpoint, where the people live who attend to visitors and maintain the former command center. Once there, we rested a little and enjoyed the landscape.

Musuem in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.
Musuem in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.

From that checkpoint we walked three more kilometers -up hill- until we finally got to Fidel’s old house, the infirmary, a kitchen; and the house where he had worked, received members of the press and issued new laws.  In addition, there was a house (now converted into a museum) in which one can appreciate personal objects once used by Fidel and the people close to him.

At the time of our visit the base was undergoing maintenance repairs, and the roof of Fidel’s house was covered.

This site continues to be conserved thanks to the efforts of fellow-guerilla Celia Sanchez Manduley (1920-1980), who developed an entire program so that this encampment would remain intact for posterity.

The old command center is run by a man who was a messenger for Fidel in the Sierra, and who is one of the few people still in the area who possess a land title signed by Fidel himself.

Click on the thumbnails to see all the photos in this gallery

4 thoughts on “Visit to Fidel’s Old Command Center

  • Dear Darko, To answer your questions, if you are renting a car, from Bayamo take the road to Bartolome Maso, then north to Santo Domingo. I would make reservations in advance for Villa Santo Domingo, at the entrence of the Parque Nacional. Check with a travel agent about this. I recommend Vaccacionaire in Habana. If travelling by public transportation, take the inter-provincial ViAzul bus to Bayamo, then hire a cab to Santo Domingo. From Villa Santo Domingo you need to hire a guide to enter the Park and go on, either to the Comandancia (a one-day excursion, or Pico Turquino, an overnight trek). There are old Russian trucks that can take you up to the ridge line (Alto de Naranjo); don’t know the schedule of these trucks. Probably no cab will chance travelling beyond the Villa Santo Domingo, as the road beyond has a 30% grade which overtaxes the engines, not to mention breaks (if the latter fail, you won’t have to worry about anything!).

  • As I plan soon to visit this part of Cuba can somebody answer which is actually the way to get there? I mean till which pointl you can get by car and how long walking from there? Do you have to announce yourself in advance? Thanx for answers

  • As someone whose family lived near Santiago fought the rev and loves the Sierra there is no place better that for a native to reminence..We will be there this weekend….It is sacred and noone without Our story can really appreciate this place..


  • Thanks for sharing your fotos and report, Elio. During my own hike up to the Comandancia in 2006, I remember that the incredibley steep cement road from Santo Domingo to the ridge-line at Alto de Naranjo.
    Afterwards, it was just an easy ridgeline stroll to the farm, where, alas, I had to surrender my camera, then the final km. or so to the Comandancia. A few months later that rule about no fotos of the Comandancia was rescended. Thanks for taking the fotos I couldn’t. Incidentally, along the paths linking the rustic buildings and lodges at the Comandancia are red hibiscus planted by Celia Sanchez, reminding us of her unique aesthetic sensibility and love of nature, even in the midst of revolution. My guide, Miguel, filled my canteen from the stream below Fidel and Celia’s hut. I kept this “holy water” and brought it back to the States with me, drinking it later, on a special occasion.

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