Named Santa María del Puerto Príncipe by the colonizers in 1515, Camagüey was one of the first villages founded by Pánfilo de Narváez during the third stage of the Cuban conquest.
Located first in the north coast, where Nuevitas port is located today, the settlers moved later to the south and finally established the city by the shores of Tínima river, where Camagüey city is still today. The population of that time were a hundred Spaniards and about a thousand natives. When most part of the Spanish colonizers, having realized that there were not big gold ore deposits, moved to other neighboring regions of the continent still not colonized by Spain, the few settlers that remained devoted their efforts to cattle-raising, a practice that did not required much work force for its development. Camagüey possessed enough lands and natural conditions to develop live stock and, thus, in the 17th century it was recognized for its development in this field. In 1668 the city was attacked by English pirate Henry Morgan.
In 1826 the first martyrs for Cuban independence were murdered in this territory. At the beginning of the Ten-Year War (1868-1878), Ignacio Agramonte with group of brave men rose in rebellion. His decision was irrevocable when he proclaimed: "Cuba does not have other way than conquering its redemption from Spain by the force of the arms."
In the war of 1895, the East-West Invasion advanced along the plains of Camagüey joining the force of patriot Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, 67 years old, and a group of enthusiast fighters.
More than six decades after that, during the Civil War, columns 2 and 8, commanded by Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto Guevara respectively, repeated the deed of their predecessors along the plains of Camagüey, facing the risks of numberless ambushes, in their attempt to take the insurrection efforts to the western part of the island. Ernesto Guevara, the heroic guerrilla, wrote in 1958: "…one could already feel the lack of shoes of the troops, most of which walked bare-footed along the swamps to the south of Camagüey".