by Raimundo Urrechaga
BIRAN, Cuba, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- In the deep fields of Cuba's northeastern countryside lies a cluster of wooden houses painted in brilliant yellow that draws thousands of local and international visitors every year due to its historical significance.
This is the town of Biran, birthplace of Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro, who will turn 90 on Aug. 13.
The Castro family estate, which once reached 11,700 hectares, was the starting point for the Cuban leader's life, surrounded by farmers and migrants who worked for his father.
Angel Castro, a Spanish migrant and wealthy landowner, planted and sold sugarcane and timber in the area and developed the zone's first cattle raising facility.
Fidel's father bought the estate in 1915 and provided work to local farm workers as well as Jamaican and Haitian migrants in the area.
There, he met Lina Ruz, a young farmer, whom he later married and had seven children with.
"When Fidel was born in 1926, the family estate was already consolidated. He was surrounded by very poor people and without a doubt, this got him thinking about social justice and other values he later developed," Antonio Lopez, a historian at the site, told Xinhua.
The estate has been a museum since 2002, displaying the early history of Castro and his family.
Visitors who roam the complex can see Fidel Castro's crib, the bedroom he shared with his brothers, pictures of his childhood, a cockfighting arena where his father's birds fought, and even a 1920s Ford.
"With the arrival of Angel Castro, this place considerably developed and he ordered the building of a cinema, a rural school, the teachers' house, a hotel, a post office, restaurants, drug stores, a nursery and a bakery," Lazaro Castro, the actual director of the museum but no relation to Fidel, told Xinhua.
Fidel and his older brother, Ramon, attended the rural school, where they learned how to read and write.
At six years of age, his parents sent Fidel to the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to study, and he returned to Biran every summer.
"This was the site where it all started and where social justice ideas first flourished in Fidel. Without these experiences, his later path would not have been possible," said the museum director.
After Castro took power in 1959, the estate was subject to the land reform law and the family property was reduced to 28 hectares. Fidel's mother, Lina Ruz, lived on the property until her death in 1963.
A fire in 1954 burned part of the family home but Fidel Castro's assistant Celia Sanchez led its restoration from 1966 until 1980.
"Fidel came that year to inaugurate the house once again and would then often stop by to chat with locals. His last visit here was in September 2003," said the director.
Since the site opened as a museum in 2002, it has gained increasing attention from locals and foreign visitors, particularly this year as Fidel Castro is set to reach 90 years of age.
Over 27,000 people visited the complex in 2015, two-thirds of them Cubans. In the first half of this year, 22,000 people already visited the museum.