It’s the capital and largest city of the province of Matanzas with a population of approximately 120,000 inhabitants. It’s located about 35 km (22 mi) west of Varadero. Matanzas is also called “the city of bridges” because of the many bridges, 17 in total, that cross 3 rivers: Yumuri, San Juan and Canimar. The other nickname for this city is “The Athens of Cuba” because of its many poets and strong cultural life. The most interesting sights of Matanzas are:
- Cuevas de Bellamar (Bellamar Caves)
- Museo Historico Provincial Palacio de Junco, Historical Museum
- Museo Farmaceutico “Le Tiolet”, this is drugstore and chemists lab built in 1882 by French doctors. It's still stocked with ancient drugs, utensils and porcelain medicine flasks, all preserved under glass on the store’s original shelves
- Plaza de la Vigia (Vigia Square) where you can find the Teatro Sauto (Sauto Theatre), the Junco Palace and an exhibition of ancient fire-fighting equipment in the former military headquarters
- Plaza de la Libertad (Liberty Square), surrounded by colonial architecture buildings from the 1800s including the Government House (1843).
- Museo Memorial “El Morillo”, a National Monument built in the 18th century.
- Castillo de San Severino, a large fortress from the early 1700s perched on the western side of the Bay of Matanzas.
- Monserrat Hermitage, from this building, built in 1875 by immigrants from Catalonia and the Balearic islands, one can enjoy the best views of the city and the Yumuri Valley.
- Museo Miguel Faide Perez, museum in honor of the first person to play the danzon, Cuba’s national dance and most notable style of music