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Matanzas: The Athens of Cuba

The city of Matanzas, capital of the western Cuban province of the same name, is reborn on its 325th anniversary, which has become a unique attraction for tourism, both national and foreign.

Founded in 1693 with the initial name of San Severino and San Carlos, it is also known as the Athens of Cuba and even once called the Venice of America -for its rivers, bridges and canals-, with a dynamic commercial and cultural activity for the time.

The aforementioned elements of economic prosperity gave it the name of the Naples of America in the mid-nineteenth century, up to its current name.

The abundance of steps on the water also gave it the nickname of "city of the bridges", with roads such as the old one of La Concordia, now known as Lacret, or the Calixto Garcia, just to mention a few.

The city has 30 bridges, including Bacunayagua, the largest in Cuba.

Also, on the banks of the Canimar River is the Canimar Abajo site, the largest open-air Aboriginal cemetery in Cuba and one of the largest in the Antilles, where evidence of anthropophagi was found, data reported for the first time in the country.

Fire Station in the city of Matanzas
Cathedral in the city of Matanzas
City of Matanzas

The architectural diversity marks the environment of the attractive city, with construction jewels such as the Sauto Theater, inaugurated in 1863 and designed by Italian Daniel D'Allaglio, turned into a National Monument of the island.

The Plaza de la Vigia, the first weapons plaza of the old city, encloses joint exponents of the historical values of the city, represented in buildings such as the Fire Department, the old Customs House and the Junco Palace, current museum.

There is also the Parque de La Libertad, created around 1800 and the center of some of the most important buildings, such as the Artistic and Literary Lyceum.

The fame of that site is linked to Cuban culture, because in 1879, the national dance known as danzon was officially presented for the first time in an official form, as well as being located in the vicinity of the French apothecary, transformed into a Pharmaceutical Museum in 1964.

In the design of the city the solar trajectory was taken into account because in the historic center no house is left out of the illumination of the star at any time of the day.

In the morning and in the afternoon, depending on the season, the sun illuminates the three foundational streets throughout, in this sense it acts as a gigantic sundial.

Very close to it, the typical Cuban nature has its exponent in the Yumuri Valley, whose contemplation is possible from the viewpoint of Bacunayagua, on a bridge that is included among the seven wonders of the civil engineering of the island.

The visitors who arrive to Matanzas include the famous Ermita de Monserrate, inaugurated in 1875 and described as a sign of the economic power achieved by the Catalan community established in the city.

Matanzas also has the subterranean wonders of the Bellamar caves, discovered in 1861, the ruins of the Triunvirato plantation and the natural touch provided by the Canimar River complement the attractions of the city.

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