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Matanzas is the capital of the Cuban province of Matanzas.It is famed for its poets, culture, and Afro-Cuban folklore.It is located on the northern shore of the island of Cuba, on the Bay of Matanzas,90 kilometres east of the capital Havana and 32 kilometres (20 mi) west of the resort town of Varadero.Matanzas is called the "City of Bridges," of which there are seventeen crossing the three rivers that traverse the city (Rio Yumuri, San Juan, and Canimar). For this reason it was referred to as the "Venice of Cuba." It was also called "La Atenas de Cuba" ("The Athens of Cuba") for its poets.Matanzas was founded in 1693 as San Carlos y San Severino de Matanzas.This followed a royal decree ("real cedula") issued on September 25, 1690 which decreed that the bay and port of Matanzas be settled by 30 families from the Canary Islands.Matanzas was one of the regions that saw intensive development of sugar plantations during the colonial era. Consequently, many African slaves were imported to support the sugar industry, particularly during the first half of the nineteenth century. For example, in 1792 there were 1900 slaves in Matanzas, roughly 30% of its population. In 1817, the slave population of Matanzas had grown to 10,773, comprising nearly 50% of the overall population. By 1841, 53,331 slaves made up 62.7% of the population of Matanzas.Census figures for 1859 put the Matanzas slave population at 104,519.Matanzas was the site of several slave insurrections and plots, including the infamous Escalera conspiracy (discovered in late 1843). Due to the high number of both slaves and, importantly, free Afro-Cubans in Matanzas, the retention of African traditions is especially strong there. In 1898, Matanzas became the location of the first action in the Spanish/American War. The city was bombarded by American Navy vessels on April 25, 1898, just after the beginning of the war.

The city is located on the north shore of the island of Cuba, on all three sides of the Bay of Matanzas. The bay cuts deep in the island, and three rivers flow in the bay inside city limits (Rio Yumuri, San Juan, and Canimar). To the south-east, the landscape rises into a hill called Pan de Matanzas, divided from the Atlantic coast by the Yumuri Valley and a coastal ridge.The city of Matanzas is divided into three neighborhoods: Versalles, Matanzas, and Pueblo Nuevo.The municipality is divided into the barrios of Bachicha, Bailen, Barracones, Bellamar, Camarioca, Carcel, Ceiba Mocha, Colon, Corral Nuevo, Guanabana, Ojo de Agua, Refugio, San Luis, San Severino, Simpson y Monserrate, Versalles and Yumurí.Wajay is a municipality in Matanzas. In 1954, the Asociación de Scouts de Cuba held its third national Jamboree in Wajay, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Scouting in Cuba.

How to Reach

By Air

Matanzas is served by Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport, 15 km east of the city.

By Train

The city has two railway stations.The main station is on the main line from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. The electrified Hershey train operates by a different route to Havana from a separate station in the barrio of Versalles.

By Bus

Matanzas is also served by Viazul and Astro buses.The Via Blanca highway connects the city with both Havana in the west and Varadero in the east.Viazul runs buses from Havana and Varadero three times a day.

Key places to visit
Palacio de Junco, Sauto Theater, Cathedral of San Carlos De Borromeo, Necropolis de San Carlos Borromeo, Quinta de Bellamar


Places to Visit

Palacio de Junco

was built for the del Junco family in Matanzas between 1835-1838.It has housed the Museo Historico Provincial de Matanzas since 1980.It is located at the Plaza de La Viga on Milanes Street, between Magdalena and Ayllon streets in Matanzas, Cuba.It is an outstanding example of Matanzas 19th century houses.Its arcades on both the ground and first floors are reminiscent of the 18th century houses around the Plaza Vieja in Havana. At roof level is a parapet complete with ornamental urns, a typical feature of 19th century Cuban colonial architecture.

Sauto Theater

opened in 1863 in Matanzas, Cuba, and has since then been a proud symbol of the city.When it opened in 1863, it was named Teatro Esteban, after the Civil Governor in Cuba at the time. But soon it adopted the last name of Ambrosio de la Concepcion Sauto, a patron of the arts who contributed much to its construction and splendour. Due to the proximity of Matanzas with Havana, the proverbial sensitivity and culture of its people, and the solvency of its rich landowners, the Sauto Theater was visited regularly by the great performers that arrived in Havana.The best chance of catching a performance is on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at 20:30.

Cathedral of San Carlos De Borromeo

On October 12, 1693, the first stone of this church, the Cathedral of St. Charles Borromeo, and held Mass in the place. This mass was conducted by the Bishop Diego Evelino Hurtado de Compostela. The original church was guano (the leaves of the royal palm) and was destroyed by a storm. Shortly afterwards construction was begun, finishing the work in 1735 with all its facilities in use by 1750. It used to be a beautiful and elegant church with frescoes on the walls, ceilings and in the big dome, but after years of neglect due to poor funding, the decay today seems irreparable.

Necropolis de San Carlos Borromeo

is located in Matanzas, Cuba.It was inaugurated on September 2, 1872 on 13.5 hectacres.The U.S. Congressman Joseph Marion Hernandez is interred there in the del Junco family crypt.

Quinta de Bellamar

was the one of largest homes in Matanzas.It is located on the Bay of Matanzas in Cuba. It was located on the Via Blanca in the neighborhood of Bellamar outside of the City of Matanzas.The house was built in the 18th century and was purchased by the Tamargo family (Miguel Luis Tamargo-Bautista) at the turn of the 20th century and used as their summer home. In 1956, the Tamargo family sold the house to the Catholic Church and most of the house was torn down. The only part that remains of the original house is its front facade and the living room which is now the actual church. The Quinta is so large that it can be seen from across the bay.

Right Time to Visit

May - July
August - November


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