Located in the center of the island, this province possesses one of the most beautiful bays in Cuba, Jagua Bay, place of settlement of aboriginal communities first and target for pirates and privateers later. The bay has so many legends that one can say it has a mythology of its own. The city, founded by French hailing from Bordeaux, was called Fernandina de Jagua. The urban center was originally conceived according to the standards of the time. Around the arms square the first blocks were built, having a very modern conception (in comparison to other cities of the island), and the first constructions were built there. Many of them are still preserved today and enrich local architecture and culture. Worth-admiring are the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción (1819), Tomás Terry Theater, and the Palatino, the latter considered the oldest of all. Nowadays, this area concentrates several cultural facilities where the visitor can enjoy local art and music.
Cienfuegos treasures many other outstanding constructions of great architectonic value such as The Arc of Triumph (only one of its kind in Cuba), erected in 1902 in the ancient arms square (today José Martí Park). There are also palaces, parks, theaters, churches restaurants, and an avenue called Paseo del Prado that extends up to the Palacio de Valle, a luxurious mansion considered a real jewel of Cienfuegos architecture.
To illustrate the accelerated progress of this city in cultural matters, it can be said that barely 25 years after its foundation the first printing house was opened, publishing its first newspaper, "El Puerto de Cienfuegos", the following day. A hundred years later, 253 serial publications would see the light in the city, not considering those of adjacent towns.
The development reached in education can not be left unmentioned. Cienfuegos has three higher learning institutions in which hundreds of students, not only from Cienfuegos, but also from other countries, receive education. For instance, every year, its Medicine School alone graduates more professionals than the University of Havana prior to 1959.