Unless you are a local, you have probably never heard of Matanzas (Cuba). However, this area is the second largest province in Cuba, only surpassed by Havana, and one of its most important regions thanks to its large contribution towards the economy.
Matanzas is located on the west side of Cuba, just 80 km away from Havana, and offers a wide range of possibilities. Visiting its historic sites and falling in love with its unique caves and natural gems are just some of the things to do in Matanzas (Cuba). Keep reading to learn more about the history of this magical place, and find out some of its key spots.
History of Matanzas
In Matanzas Bay (Cuba), you can find the capital city of the region which shares the area’s name. The city was founded in 1693, however, this piece of land was frequented by Spaniards and pirates since 1508. In fact, it was the scenery of the famous Battle of Matanzas Bay (Cuba). A naval conflict in which the Dutch squadron overcame the Spanish fleet during the Eighty Years’ War.
By 1860, the area had become the second most important city in Cuba thanks to its sugarcane industry. Matanzas Bay in Cuba also became the island’s cultural hub with many active cultural institutions and a wide number of scholars and artists calling it home. Nowadays, this part of the island is still known as “the Athens of Cuba” because of its economic and cultural splendor during the 18th century.
Top 5 things to do in Matanzas
Intrigued by this destination? If you are visiting Matanzas in Cuba there are certain activities and spots that you should not miss. Here is a list of Espíritu Travel ‘s favorite things to do in Matanzas (Cuba).
Visit Cuevas de Bellamar
Dating back 300,000 years, Cuevas de Bellamar is an authentic natural treasure which stretches for over 750 meters. This impressive rock formation placed 40 meters underneath the Earth’s surface is accessible for the whole family and a must if you are in Matanzas Bay.
Explore its museums
Museum-lovers will go crazy in Matanzas. Learn more about the island in the Provincial History Museum hosted in the fabulous Junco Palace. Go back in time thanks to the unique Pharmaceutical Museum, or discover the great art collection of the Provincial Art Museum.
Discover Valle de Yumuri
Considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Cuba, this iconic gorge is formed of 80 hectares of pure nature. A captivating landscape perfect for a safari or a hike, which is definitely a must-see for nature lovers.
Pilgrimage to the Iglesia de Monserrate
This church is one of the best examples of Cuban Colonial architecture in Matanzas and a very good sample of the 19th-century chapels on the island. Built by colonists from Spain’s Catalonian region, Iglesia de Monserrate is also one of the best spots to enjoy the spectacular views of the city and Valle de Yumuri.
Ride the Hershey Train
If you are into slow travel or you just simply want to live an authentically Cuban experience, try the Hershey Train. This train was built by the Hershey company back in 1917 to transport sugar to Havana. Nowadays, it has become the last electrified rail line in Cuba that takes you from Matanzas to Havana. A great way to learn that the journey is more important than the destination itself.
Do you still have questions about Matanzas (Cuba)? Feel free to contact Espíritu Travel’s team of experts to solve them. If you are determined to include Matanzas Bay in your trip itinerary to Cuba, we can also help you. Let us know what other needs and desires you have for your vacation and we will take it from there!