CubaPLUS Magazine

The majestic and historic Pico Real del Turquino

By: Alina Veranes
Dec 05, 2022
The majestic and historic Pico Real del Turquino

Its name gives a measure of the meaning it has for Cubans: Pico Real del Tuquino.


With a maximum height of 1,974 meters above sea level, it is the highest mountain in the country, located in the Guamá municipality and in the easternmost wing of the Sierra Maestra mountain range, a natural enclave of extraordinary biodiversity, and if it were not enough, a region full of history for being the scene where the last libertarian campaign took place.


To say in Cuba “with a morale as high as Turquino” is to speak of the greatest fortitude and courage that one can have. And this is worth more, when since 1953, a bust of the Cuban National Hero José Martí stands there, the work of the sculptor Gilma Madera, nailed by patriots in the Year of Marti’s centenary.


The elevation, then, does not need to be among the highest, from a physical-geological point of view, in the world, if it has earned a place of honor among the most precious symbols of the nation. Although the first registered ascent to its summit dates from 1915, there is also talk of an earlier one, around 1860.


The imposing mountain range that surrounds it was inhabited since colonial times by peasants and even in its area, culture and the coffee and cocoa industries as well as the exploitation of forest resources flourish, sometimes indiscriminately.


It was also the seat of very poor and isolated rural communities, much forgotten and exploited by landowners, but with an indomitable fighting spirit. El Turquino was declared a National Monument on December 30, 1991. Shady forests, valleys and peaks make up its admirable environment, sometimes so wild and rugged that it makes us feel like heroes or protagonists of a feat, when one goes along its glorious trails to reach the summit.


The most famous ascent to the virginal summit, as we said, was that of the Swedish botanist Erik Leonard Ekman of the Stockholm Academy of Sciences, in 1915, who named the three Turquino peaks. Today the eastern side of the Sierra Maestra receives the name of Turquino National Park, and has 17 mountains with a height over 1,300 meters above sea level.


It is one of the highest elevations in the country, with the so-called peaks Real (with 1,974 m), Cuba (with 1,872 m) and Suecia (with 1,734 m). It can also be reached through the province of Granma. Within the great richness of its forest there is over 50 percent of the country's endemic species and more than 600 identified species of the animal kingdom.


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