The Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara is where you go to pay your respects to the Cuban revolution. In a country where people seem to want to go abroad to see the world and feel constricted, this is where they instead take pride of who they are.

The daily salute that all Cuban children recite each morning: “We want to be like Che.”

Being located at the centre of Cuba, Santa Clara was the scene for the battle of Independence first and then for the battle to topple Batista when in 1958 the Rebel Army took the city under the leadership of Che Guevara.

Che Guevara Mausoleum
The monument to Ernesto Che Guevara.

Che Guevara Mausoleum

Without much time left we decided to visit the Mausoleum of Ernesto Che Guevara. There is a massive bronze statue and the entrance to the museum and the mausoleum is just underneath it. The whole area is sculpted representing many different episodes in Che’s life and so is his farewell letter from when he left Cuba.

Che Guevara Mausoleum
Che’s farewell letter to Fidel is inscribed in full.

The museum in particular was very educative, it documented all Che Guevara’s life and there were interesting letters between him and Fidel Castro. It was great to know some behind the scenes details of such an iconic figure. Standing in the Che Guevara mausoleum was also quite moving. Not only he but also another twenty-nine of his fellow combatants are buried in the mausoleum. Some of the bodies, including Che Guevara’s one, were only returned to Cuba in 1997. Photos aren’t allowed inside, but are OK on the steps in front.

Che Guevara Mausoleum
Decorative wall depicting Che in the Sierra Maestra consulting with Fidel, beside Camilo Cienfuegos, and in the mountains on horseback.

The museum is a couple of kilometers from the centre. Probably many tourists just go there and do not bother going to Santa Clara at all, but just because of that, the city seemed to have kept its authenticity and its socialist character. The streets are full of slogans and satirical murals where the predominant theme is the relationship with the U.S. It’s worth having at least a pit stop there.

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