For centuries, traditional methods of agriculture have prevailed in the Vinales Valley. Most notable is the traditional methods of tobacco growing that have remained unchanged for several centuries. The outstanding Karst landscape blends well with the vernacular styles of architecture, crafts, and music.
The Vinales Valley is home to a series of caves on the slopes and hillocks that were residential homes to the Amerindians before the arrival of the Spaniard Conquistadors. The valley’s fertile soils and favorable weather allowed settlement in the area due to the sustainable agriculture practiced here.
The slave labor was used to cultivate fodder and food crops. When they could not take the forced labor anymore, the slaves found good refuge in the caves that dot the valley. The most historic site in the valley is the Pan de Azucar where the slaves were taught different trades.
The mountains surrounding the valley formed an impenetrable barrier that kept enemies away. The limestone outcrops on the mountains were eroded over time to create rich fertile soils on the valley. To further add to the fertility of the soils is the rich ammonite fossils found in the very large caves that is taken down to the valley through erosion.
The park is home to an interesting diversity of avian and mollusk fauna. These animals help in the pollination and breaking down of soil to enhance fertility. Recent research shows that mechanical methods of tobacco cultivation lower the yields. Perhaps this is why the ancient methods of cultivation such as animal traction are still being widely used.
The village of Vinales was established in 1875 after tobacco cultivation and production was expanded in Vinales Valley. The village was founded along the road from Pinar del Rio to Puerto Esperanza, the main port city. In 1882, the Western rail road was constructed to pass through the village. This further entrenched the pedestal position occupied by Vinales Valley as a center of tobacco production.
The valley was the theater of several military operations during the War of Independence and also the Cuban Revolution. Presently, the valley is purely used for agriculture, with about 8,000 people engaging in the tobacco production. The tobacco grown here has given the country a lot of revenue since it is used to produce the famous Cuban Cigars.
Whatever else you do in Cuba during your holiday there, make sure you get a chance to visit the Vinales Valley. It will be your best experience yet.