Matanzas: The Venice of Cuba
The city of Matanzas is the capital of the province by the same name. Spanish explorer San Carlos y San Severino de Matanzas founded the city in 1693 after acknowledging a 1690 decree to bring 30 families from the Canary Islands to the settlement.
Intense development of the region’s sugar industry followed. The sugar industry’s growth is easy to track through its reliance upon slaves. In 1792, Matanzas was populated by 1,900 slaves. By 1817, the slave population had exploded to 10,773 or about 50 percent of the total population.
By 1841, there were 53,331 slaves (62.7 percent of the population) in Matanzas. By 1859, the slave population topped 104,000. The region has a long history of uprisings and slave rebellions, many of which were decided with uncommon viciousness. The most famous of slave conspiracies was known as the Escalera Conspiracy of 1843.
In fact, a rebellion by local Taino fisherman gave new meaning to Matanzas. When 30 Spanish soldiers demanded that local tribal fisherman carry them across one of Matanzas three rivers in their own boats, the fishermen flipped their boats midway across. The heavy armor caused all the soldiers to drown. In the language of the Good People (Taino Indians), “Matanzas” came to mean “massacre.”
Two Spanish women were saved. One, Maria de Estrada, was regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the world at the time. She was saved by a Taino Indian Cacique (chieftain). De Estrada eventually managed to escape marrying Pedro Sanchez Farfan in Trinidad soon after.
The city of Matanzas is located south of Havana on Cuba’s north shore. It is surrounded on three sides by the Bay of Matanzas. Three rivers, Rio Yumuri, San Juan and Canimar, empty into the bay, accented by the island. The surrounding landscape rises gently to a hill known as Pan de Matanzas.
Matanzas is divided into three enduring neighborhoods, Versalles, Matanzas and Pueblo Nuevo. The municipality contains 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 Yumuri.
Matanzas has two railways. The electric train services Havana from its station in the barrio of Versalles. The main line is a stop on the Santiago de Cuba, Havana run. Matanzas also has the Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport, not an international airport. Travelers also use the Viazul and Astro buses to arrive and depart from Matanzas.
Matanzas has an unusual number of museums and landmarks. For many People-to-People Cuba tours, the province is a popular destination because of its diverse cultural offerings, landmarks, beaches and proximity to Havana proper. Want to learn more about the most interesting People-to-People Cuba destinations? Contact Info@Travelguidecuba.com.
As of 2008, the Casino Espanol was undergoing restoration. In its heyday, the casino was vibrant and home to some of North America’s and Europe biggest celebrities. Other landmarks in the city include Quinta de Ballamar, the heritage house and church, Necroploils de San Carlos Borromeo, the Teatro Sauto, the Museo Historico Provincial de Matanzas and the Catedral San Carlos de Borromeo. People-to-People Cuba tourists do not lack for interesting sites in the city or Province of Matanzas.
The nearby Bellamar caves and boating down the picturesque Canimar River are two thoroughly enjoyable trips for nature lovers. Over time, Matanzas has been given some pretty impressive names by European guests. La Atenas de Cuba, The Athens of Cuba, and Venice of Cuba are two names commonly associated with Matanzas.
Matanzas is rich in Afro-Cuba culture. Due to the lengthy record of slaves in the region, many visitors find that Matanzas has the most intense Afro-Cuban culture in the country. Cuba has so many interesting landmarks. Want to learn more? Contact Info@Travelguidecuba.com.
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