About GloryTown

Bahia de Jagua or Bahía de Cienfuegos in the late afternoon of a misty day after heavy rainfalls


Copyright: Cristoph Valenta, Austria

Barrio de la Gloria, “Glorytown”, was the original name for this quaint and history filled neighborhood within the city of Cienfuegos. The indigenous people were the first to settle this area, known then as Cacicazgo de Jagua.
French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana, led by Don Louis D'Clouet, settled the city on April 22, 1819. Its original name was Fernardina de Jagua, in honor of Ferdinand VII of Spain. After the Spanish took power, the settlement became a “villa” in 1829 and a city in 1880. The city was subsequently named Cienfuegos, sharing the name with a Capitan General (Spanish governor) on the island at the time.
During the Cuban Revolution, the city saw an uprising against Fulgencio Batista and eventually Fidel Castro.
Near the mouth of the Bay of Cienfuegos is Castillo de Jagua, full name Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles de Jagua, a fortress erected in 1745 for protection against Caribbean pirates.
Cienfuegos, one of the chief seaports of Cuba at center of the sugar, coffee and tobacco trade, is located in the south central region of Cuba not far from the Bay of Pigs. While sugarcane is its chief crop, local farmers also grow coffee.
The city contains six buildings built from 1819-50, 327 buildings built from 1851-1900 and 1188 buildings constructed during the 20th century. There is no other city in the Caribbean that contains such a remarkable cluster of neoclassical structures.
Although the barrio was known as La Juanita during my childhood, my grandmother once told me that its real name was Barrio de la Gloria. According to her, it was indeed a glorious place to raise a family. Personally, this always meant that there must have been a special quality about this place named Glorytown.
This special place was where I would be born in 1955 as part of a large and loving family. A place filled with the flavor and spice of life. A place filled with the mystery of a glorious time long passed that had left enough of its grandeur for my childhood friends and me to grow up in a world of make-believe under the iron fist of Castro’s Communism. A place that in my heart could only be known as Glorytown.