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Matanzas: 326 Years and Counting

The city of Matanzas, the capital of the western Cuban province of the same name, stands out strongly in the preferences of tourists, who are attracted by its natural wealth and unique beaches.

Founded in 1693 as San Severino y San Carlos, Matanzas is also known as the Athens of Cuba and it used to be called the Venice of America, due to its many rivers, bridges and canals, with a dynamic commercial and cultural activity for that period.

One of the province's sites, the Yumuri Valley, was included in the declaration of the western city of Matanzas as a tourist destination in Cuba.

The valley holds in its 8,400 hectares forests inhabited by endemic species such as tocororo (Cuban trogon), the national bird, in addition to farmland in which agri-ecology is practiced.

Archaeological evidence and the endemic plant species Melocactus matanzanus, an endangered cactus, are other attractions of the Yumuri Valley, which can be seen in its entire splendor from the Bacunayagua bridge, which is precisely one of the wonders of Cuban civil engineering, included in the tourist corridor between Havana and Varadero beach.

Another attraction in Matanzas is the Jose Smith Comas Sugar Museum, where visitors can see two dozen locomotives from 1895 to 1925, as well as learn about the process to make sugar.

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

Due to its many bridges, Matanzas was nicknamed "the city of bridges", among which are La Concordia, also known as Lacret, and Calixto Garcia, just to name a few.

The architectural diversity marks the surroundings of the attractive city, with jewels of construction such as the Sauto Theater, which was inaugurated in 1863 and was designed by the Italian architect Daniel D'Allaglio. The theater was declared a National Monument.

Plaza de la Vigia, first arms square in the old city, is surrounded by exponents of historic values, which are represented in buildings such as the Fire Station, the old Customs House and the Junco Palace, which is currently a museum.

Visitors to Matanzas include tour of the famous Monserrate Chapel, which was inaugurated in 1875 and is a sign of the economic power of the Catalonian community established in the city.

The province also has the Zapata Swamp (Cienaga de Zapata), which is one of the most attractive tourist options, in addition to being the paradise par excellence for ecology lovers.

Blue water beaches, exotic forests, rivers, lakes, flooded caverns, natural pools, pristine areas and typical swamp savannas provide shelter to 30 percent of Cuba's native fauna.

Among the species are 171 birds, 18 of which are endemic to the territory, which has become one of the richest areas in Cuba for ecological tourism.

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