Founded on July 15,1689 by former inhabitants of the coastal village of San Juan de los Remedios who were getting away from the constants raids by pirates and privateers, Santa Clara is located in the center of the island, reason why it has been addressed with the aboriginal name Cubanacán. Santa Clara was given the city status in 1867.
In the 19th century, when most mills of the Cuba's western region were equipped with steam engines and were profiting from railroad transportation, the landowners of central Cuba, having less economical resources, were facing great difficulties to modernize their mills. As a consequence, the potential for development of the region of Villa Clara decreased.
During the Ten-Year War, the patriots from Villa Clara struggled restlessly even once the Pacto del Sanjón, a war pact signed only by a weak fraction of the Cuban fighters, had put an end to the war. Their attitude contributed to the Protesta de Baraguá, response of the Cuban patriots to the weak betraying action of signing a pact without independence. In addition, in the war of 1895, the insurrectionist forces of Villa Clara proved one of the most heroic. Santa Clara, Remedios, and Camajuaní contributed a great amount of rebels along the whole war. Relevant were Leoncio Vidal and Juan Bruno Zayas among other brave patriots.
During the neocolonial republic, Villa Clara played an important role in the struggles of workers in favor of reforms.
Along the revolutionary fight that preceded the triumph of the revolution in 1959, the martyrs of Villa Clara were many. Some of them were Julio Pino Machado, Agustín Gómez Lubián, and Osvaldo Herrera.
The east-west invasion carried out by commanders Ernesto "Ché" Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, achieved notable victories. During the battle of Santa Clara, the revolutionary forces engaged in intense combats from December 29, 1958. A group of a hundred men attacked the entrenched enemy soldiers on the Capiro hills; the captain Roberto Rodríguez, nicknamed "El Vaquerito" (the little cowboy), advanced to the police station; other groups headed to the jail, the Court of Justice, and the Gran Hotel, hiding place of the enemy.
The capture of the armored train had a great significance because it enriched the arsenal of the rebel forces.
The third regiment of Santa Clara surrendered on January 1st, 1959, at a request by Commander Ernesto Guevara for unconditional surrender.