General information about the Valle de los Ingenios.
Officially called Valle de San Luis, but better known as Valle de los Ingenios, it is located near the Villa de Trinidad in the current province of Sancti Spíritus, between the mountains and the sea.
It also constitutes a true archaeological monument of the Cuban sugar industry from the colonial period.
The history of the valley is as old as that of the city. Since time immemorial, the native inhabitants cultivated tobacco, which was taken over by the Spanish as soon as they settled in the territory.
The valley was also the support of livestock and the cultivation of minor fruits, which transformed the region into one of the settlements with the greatest exchange possibilities on the island.
The arrival in 1655 of Spanish emigrants from Jamaica contributed to the development of the sugar industry in an area that had optimal conditions for sugar production: fertile lands, irrigated by mighty rivers and close to shipping ports.
The Valley of the Mills and its history.
In the first half of the 18th century, the investment of foreign capital operated as a driving force for the economic development of the Valle de los Ingenios.
Between 1700 and 1750 there were about 20 mills in the area.
By the second half of the 18th century, Trinidad defined its sugar vocation and thanks to this it rose as one of the most advanced towns on the island.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the great sugar boom in the area began.
Trinidad had become one of the cities with the greatest economic and socio-cultural flourishing in Cuba due to the immense development of the sugar industry in the Valle de los Ingenios.
Towards 1840, the possibilities of exploiting the valley were exhausted, both in terms of the fertility of the land and the available land.
There was an exodus of capital to other regions.
The appearance of beet sugar on the international market caused unequal and insurmountable competition between Cuban and European producers.
These factors, together with the world crisis of 1857 and the start of the war of independence in 1868, caused the city to begin a long path of decline from the mid-nineteenth century.
Valle de los Ingenios and its most relevant works.
Among the richest preserved exponents in the Valle de los Ingenios we can find the farm-houses of the Manaca-Iznaga, Buena Vista, Delicias, Guáimaro and Magua sugar mills, which are examples of the superimposition of the codes of neoclassical architecture on the typical spatial structure of the house-plantation of the Spanish colony.
On the other hand, the bell towers of San Isidro and Manaca-Iznaga appear, symbols of class power with aspirations of perpetuity.
The hydraulic works of the San Isidro and Santa Elena mills, with their impressive walls and carved stone troughs, were conceived to solve channeling, drainage of low-lying land and high salinity.
There also stands out the rural settlement of the vernacular architecture of San Pedro, which was founded in the 18th century by freed blacks and small settlers.
This hamlet served as a shelter for the endowments of slaves and its constructions were formed by small masonry and tile ranches, which are still preserved in Manaca-Iznaga.
The existing houses in the Valle de los Ingenios are exponents of the type of manufacturing linked to economic activities, essentially the manufacture of sugar.
These constitute the clear interrelation between the natural setting, the constructive expressions and the representative remains of generations.
Relevant data about the Valley.
On December 8, 1988, the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee on World Cultural and Natural Heritage declared Trinidad and its Valle de los Ingenios a World Heritage Site.
In this way, the merits of this area, which is an eminent model of a significant historical period and traditional human habitat, were being recognized.
The Valle de los Ingenios is an example of the insertion of man in nature, without loss of balance or harmony in their union.
An entire monumental complex in a natural setting, with an extension of 253 square kilometers and high landscape values that keep the material witnesses of a way of life and production of the sugar history of a privileged region in Cuba and where men of different ethnic groups converged. and cultures that came together in a long and decanting process that led, first to the Creole and then definitely to the Cuban.