The western Cuban province of Matanzas holds a wide range of tourist options, from the world-famous coastal resort of Varadero to the attractions of the capital city.
Founded in 1693 as San Severino y San Carlos, Matanzas is also known as Cuba’s Athens and even the Venice of the Americas, due to its many rivers, and had a dynamic commercial and cultural activity during the Spanish-colonial period.
Notwithstanding, due to its many passes over its 12 rivers, the city was also nicknamed “the city of bridges”, being the one called La Concordia and known today as Lacret or Calixto García the oldest one.
The city’s architectural diversity includes crown jewels like the Sauto Theater, which was inaugurated in 1863 and designed by the Italian architect Daniel D’Allaglio, and was declared a National Monument.
Another major site in Matanzas is the so-called Parque de la Libertad (Park of Liberty), which was built in 1800 and is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city, like the Artistic and Literary Lyceum, which played a key role in the boom of local culture.
In fact, history shows that the park witness the first presentation of the Cuban dance known as danzón in 1879.
In addition, Matanzas province holds the Bellamar Caves, which are visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Discovered in the 19th century, Bellamar is the most visited cavern in Cuba at present. It is two kilometers long and is made up of crystalline formations with plenty of stalagmites and stalactites.
Its halls descend to the aquifer and end up in lakes of crystal-clear water that are 300,000 years old.
Another major tourist attraction in Matanzas is the Cave of Saturn, which is 20 meters deep and is a flooded cavern with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.
That cave has two galleries inhabited by blind fish and shrimps, which are the typical fauna in Cuba’s underground world.
Nature found its way in the Yumurí Valley, which can be seen from the Bacunayagua Lookout, built over a bridge that was included in the list of Cuba’s seven wonders of civil engineering.
Another interesting site in Matanzas is the Chapel of Monserrate, which was inaugurated in 1875 and is considered a sign of the economic power of the Catalonia community that settled in the village.
On the other hand, the Castle of San Severino, at the entrance of the city through the so-called Vía Blanca, was completed in 1734 and currently houses the Museum of the Slave’s Route, as an acknowledgement of the African imprint from previous centuries.
vacacionar, August 24, 2015