The western Cuban province of Matanzas is a unique touch of history by the sea and has become an excellent complement for the thousands of foreign vacationers who visit the world-famous beach resort of Varadero every year.
The city of Matanzas, which was founded in 1693 as San Severino y San Carlos, was also known as Cuba's Athens or America's Venice, because of its rivers, bridges and canals, and developed a busy commercial activity and rich cultural life at the time.
Due to its peculiar economic prosperity, the city was also called America's Naples in the mid-19th century, until it was baptized with its current name.
Because of its many overpasses, Matanzas was also called the "city of bridges", among which the old La Concordia bridge, known today as Lacret, or the Calixto García bridge, just to mention some, stand out.
Architectural diversity characterizes the city, which boasts crown jewels such as the Sauto Theater, inaugurated in 1863 and designed by the Italian architect Daniel D'Allaglio, and declared a National Monument.
Plaza de la Vigía, the city's first arms square, is surrounded by exponents that are closely linked to Matanzas' historic values, including buildings such as the Fire Station, the former Customs Office and the Palace of Junco, which is a museum at present.
Another major site in the provincial capital is Parque de la Libertad, or Park of Freedom in English, which was built in 1800 and is surrounded by some of the city's main buildings, such as the Artistic and Literary Lyceum.
The fame of the building is linked to Cuban culture, since it was there that the national dance known as "danzón" was officially presented in 1879, in addition to being near the French pharmacy, which was turned into the Pharmaceutical Museum in 1964.
The underground wonders of the Bellamar Caves, discovered in 1861, the ruins of the Triunvirato sugar mill, and the natural touch of the Canimar River are complements to the city's attractions.
Very close to the city, Cuba's typical nature has one of its best exponents in the Yumurí Valley, which can be seen from the Bacunayagua Bridge, which is listed among Cuba's seven wonders of civil engineering.
Travelers who arrive in Matanzas visit the famous Ermita de Monserrate, inaugurated in 1875 and considered a symbol of the economic power achieved by the Catalonian community that settled in the city.
The bay of Matanzas, one of the best in the country because of its size and location, harbors a major construction that gives the city a touch of modernity, with a huge infrastructure to receive, store and distribute oil, in addition to excellent facilities to accommodate large tankers.
In addition to all this, the city's offers for leisure are complemented by the third version of the Tropicana nightclub, the most modern facility of its kind, and the Palmar de Junco Stadium, where the first official baseball game was held in Cuba.