On October 27, 1492, approaching Cuban shores for the first time, Christopher Columbus saw “a high, square-shaped mountain, which looked like an island.” For centuries, it was widely accepted that the mountain he saw was El Yunque . It is now thought that Columbus was actually describing a similar flat-topped mountain near Gibara, many miles to the west (Baracoan, however, are staunchly partisan on the subject).
In 1510, Don Diego Velázquez de Cuellar arrived fresh from Spain with 300 men and founded La Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the first of the original seven cities founded by Velázquez. As such, it is the oldest colonial city in the Americas. The indigenous Taíno population resisted the strange cutthroat proselytizers.
A Dominican-born chief named Hatuey rallied the Indians in a rebellion against Spanish enslavement. The Spanish repelled the Indians and captured Hatuey. The noble “savage” was burned at the stake.
Baracoa remote geographical circumstance did little to favor the settlement. After five years, Santiago de Cuba, with its vastly superior harbor, was proclaimed the new capital. Baracoa languished in limbo for the next two centuries, without road or rail link to the rest of Cuba until [node:61711 link La Farola  was completed in the early 1960s.
In September 2008, Hurricane Ike came ashore here, tearing up Baracoa pretty badly; many of the houses along the Malecón were demolished.