Cuba's western province of Matanzas, whose capital dates to the 17th century, treasures many riches linked to the origin and development of that territory, which is full of natural beauties, history and cultural traditions.
Matanzas, also known as Cuba's Athens, has a one-of-a-kind attraction, the so-called Pharmaceutical Museum, which is housed in a drugstore that was founded in January 1882 and functioned as such until 1964.
The French drugstore, the only one of its kind still preserved in the world, exhibits instruments used in that epoch to produce medications, as well as many porcelain bottles decorated by hand.
Visitors can also see recipe books containing over one million original formulas, and a bronze medal won by experts at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900.
The Museum of Art is dedicated to the most diverse cultural manifestations, with a large exhibit of paintings, engravings, sculptures, decorative works and furniture, among other valuable exponents.
Visitors express special interest in the halls dedicated to paintings and engravings of Matanzas, which were created in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as works of universal art from France, England and Holland.
Another hall recreates the province's history through furniture, paintings, glassware and European ceramics.
The Palacio de Junco, a small palace built in 1838 in a Spanish colonial setting, has housed the Provincial Museum since 1980. During their tours, visitors can see the lifestyle during the colonial period, and compare the life of Cuban aristocrats with that of slaves who worked in sugar and coffee plantations.
An outstanding exponent of Matanzas' urbanization in the 19th century, the building was seriously damaged by a fire in 1845 - the famous fire of La Marina Neighborhood -, but it was reconstructed two years later.
Its halls treasure the most varied artifacts, covering over 10,000 years of Cuba's development, from aboriginal communities to present days.
Among the buildings dedicated to preserve the region's historic wealth is El Morrillo, housed in one of the fortresses built in the 18th century to protect the city from attacks by corsairs and pirates.
The museum exhibits archeological artifacts from aboriginal cultures, since it was built on the largest aboriginal settlement. It also shows personal objects of Antonio Guiteras and Carlos Aponte, the latter from Venezuela, who were outstanding political figures during the first half of the 20th century.
With that variety of attractions, just to mention some, Matanzas can reveal its secrets to thousands of vacationers who visit the city every year, taking advantage of its closeness to the world-famous beach resort of Varadero and of the region's natural richness.