Culture, heritage and history of Matanzas’ foundation

Culture, heritage and history of Matanzas’ foundation

Heritage & Traditions

Cubaplus Magazine

Buildings and emblematic public spaces are the scene of various actions with which the western city of Matanzas, called the Athens of Cuba, celebrates its 328 years this October 12.


Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and respecting biosecurity measures, the city displays an intense program that includes gatherings, exhibitions, scientific events, tributes, concerts, dance expressions and others, which will last until the 20th, Day of Cuban Culture.


Among the venues for the festivities is the Plaza de la Vigía, the city's founding site, in which historical buildings stand, such as the Sauto Theater, from 1873, the venue for the delivery of the National and Provincial Awards for the Restoration and Conservation of the years 2020 and 2021, and the Palacio de Junco Museum, which reactivated the gathering “Al sur de miganta” (South of my Throat), in tribute to Carilda Oliver Labra (1922-2018), National Prize of Literature.


The celebration's agenda includes a meeting for the 135th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Cuba, at the Castillo de San Severino, a military fort from the colonial period, which since 2009 houses the Museum for the Slave Route, a project with the participation of UNESCO.


Founded on October 12, 1693 by some 30 families arriving from the Canary Islands, the economic take-off of San Carlos and San Severino de Matanzas occurred in the middle of the 19th century, from the development of sugar production, with one of the highest concentrations of African slaves in the country.


Along with economic progress, the city had a notable cultural boom. The intellectual gatherings that took place there were famous in their time and transcended history.


Sitting on the margins of a beautiful bay, Matanzas is characterized by its many bridges. One of them, La Concordia, later named José Lacret Morlot in honor of a pro-independence patriot, was the first great engineering work on the Island, built in 1875 on the Yumurí River.


The city is the cradle of the danzón, a national dance, and together with Havana, of the rumba, a very Cuban rhythm known internationally and declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

At the same time, Matanzas is the first modern city in Cuba due to the urban and unique criteria used in its design, and its historic urban center, a National Monument, has not undergone any changes in its layout since the date of its foundation.