Trinidad Museo Historico Municipal
About Museo Historico Municipal
The Museo Historico Nacional or Municipal Museum of Trinidad is housed in the beautiful Palacio Cantero.
It was constructed in a neoclassical style between 1810-1812 even though above the portal of the main door the date 1833 is inscribed. In fact, this date actually corresponds to the extension of the house by the next proprietors.
In 1851 it was bought by Justo German Cantero whose name was actually Kanter and thus lends the name to the mansion.
The main body of the house is made up of three parallel wings with drawing rooms in the centre and rooms at the sides and a garage for a horse drawn cart as previously seen.
The cloistral patio is 14m x 24m and quite unusual for Trinidad due to its sheer size. The galleries formed by arches resting on pillars call to mind those great convents in Havana.
This mansion was built by Don Mariano Borrell y Padron, and it became the most modern 19th century building in Trinidad at the time. Don Borrell was one of the richest landowners of the period. It was said of him that he aspired to have one of the best houses in Trinidad and he certainly achieved it.
In the first wing the roof is sloping whereas the other two are flat. The house has a hallway that runs along by the main street. The floors are made of marble. All the rooms are adorned with rich colours and beautifully painted by an Italian artist called Daniel D’Alaglio who was commissioned by Cantero.
This is a photo of Justo German Cantero one of the house owners. This next photo is Maria del Monserrate Fernandez de Lara Y Borrell his wife. Incidentally, Cantero was also responsible for introducing steam machines in the sugar making process and author of ‘Los Ingenios’.
The inspiring conch-like splays above the windows in the drawing rooms, garlands and little tempera figures are also attributed to D’Alaglio.
The items in the following rooms are relics of the sugar industry and indicate how technology and fortunate circumstances paved the way for Trinidad to take such a leading market share in sugar production, beginning with the ruin of sugar production in Haiti at the end of the 1700s.
Documents and testimonies that plot the history of Trinidad are on display as well as photos of those fortunate enough to be part of the elite members of society.
Informative posters along the way here tell the story of the sugar cane industry and illustrate its progress throughout the years. On another level the museum also highlights the socio-economic and cultural success as a result of this boom. Newspapers surfaced kick starting an intellectual sphere. Wealth began to trickle down to once impoverished towns creating more opportunities for the economy as a whole.
In the 19th century however, political stirrings began to seep into the foundations of colonial society partly to do with the slave trade that the landowners were so reliant upon. For this reason canons and objects of warfare can be seen around the complex. Towards the end of the 19th century is when battles and skirmishes began to scar the face of the landscape here for many years to come.
On the roof, surprisingly is a large roof top terrace and tower. It’s not indicated to what reasons the tower served. More than likely it was just further proof of Don Borrell y Padron’s ambitious plans to create an unforgettable home and reflect his great wealth and status.
José Martí, Trinidad de Cuba, Colombia 2003, pp30-31.
Juan de las Cuevas Toraya, 500 Años De Construcciones En Cuba, Havana 2001, pp145.