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  History

The amazing beauty of these small islets, together with the exuberance of its nature, provide this paradise landscape with that scent of virginity that has captivated every one from its European discoverers. Thus, Diego Velazquez, the Conqueror of Cuba, from the very first moment dubbed it “Jardines del Rey” (king gardens) as an homage to the Spanish monarch.

The oldest available information about this archipelago dates back to the conquest of Cuba . Cayo Romano and other keys sheltered native Indians during their confrontation with Velazquez’s forces in 1511. Later on, at the end of the sixteenth Century, it served together with Cayo Coco as a shelter for pirates and privateers and also as the temporal headquarters for famous seamen such as Jacques de Sores, Henry Morgan, and so many others, which sought titles and fame on ransom commerce and plundering of the Spanish settlements in the West Indies . The transparent beaches of these two keys silently witnessed transcendental facts in Cuban history. In them, ships would disembark black slaves brought from Africa after the banning of slave trade. Hundreds of years after that, at the end of the nineteenth century, numerous expeditions of Cubans fighting against Spanish colonial domain would unload weapons and ammunition in the keys. The fertile valleys and water reserves of Cayo Romano propitiated the settlement of wealthy landowners and the development on the key of cattle breeding and apiculture, highly diminished during the ten-year-war Spanish occupation of the key. In time, it became the habitat of lumberjacks and charcoal burners, which brought about the deforestation of the immense forests on the key. During that same century, Chinese slaves at Cayo Sabinal erected the second tallest lighthouse in the country (52m, 170 ft).


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