This old mining town is famous for its basilica, which houses one of Cuba’s most sacred and storied objects.

In Cuba, as in many Latin American countries, the Virgin Mary holds a special significance. And in the old copper mining town of El Cobre, you’ll find one of Cuba’s most important Catholic relics – Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre or Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre. 

The 16-inch tall, baked clay statue of Mary with the Christ child has a long, complex history. Legend says the statue was found floating in Cuba’s Bay of Nipe by three workers trapped in a fierce storm. Realizing the statue’s importance, the sailors returned to their town, where a chapel was built to house it. What ensued was a series of mysterious disappearances, with the statue vanishing and returning to the chapel. Eventually, locals determined that the statue belonged in El Cobre – where it was met with great joy.

This story spread quickly throughout the island and the statue gained a special status in Cuban identity. In 1916, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre was declared the patroness of Cuba. And a few years later, it was designated a Canonical Coronation, a sacred image, by the Catholic Church – with six popes visiting the statue since. 

This activity is available on our Undiscovered Cuba tour or can be integrated into a custom-made itinerary