El Cobre Sanctuary - 15 photos

The "Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre", high on a hill 20 Km northwest of Santiago de Cuba on the old road to Bayamo, is Cuba's most sacred pilgrimage site. In santería, La Virgen de La Caridad is associated with the beautiful orisha Ochún, the Yoruba goddess of love and dancing who is represented by the color yellow.

The copper mine at El Cobre has been active since pre Columbian times and was once the oldest European operated mine in the western hemisphere. It was shut in 2000 and the villagers, former workers of the mine, now offer shiny chalcopyrite stones from the mine. They sell flower wreaths and candles as offerings for the Virgin and miniature "Cachitas", the popular name for her.