Sadly neglected by the powers that be and languishing Titanic-like beneath a thick layer of postrevolutionary dust, Matanzas is Cuba's sleeping giant; a city of striking bridges and withered colonial churches that hide just a few coats of paint away from their 19th-century neoclassical splendor.
Known formerly as the 'Athens of Cuba' for its pivotal role in the development of poetry, theater and music on the island, Matanzas' position as a one-time rival to Habana in all things cultural doesn't carry much weight with contemporary visitors, who are conspicuous by their absence. Straddled with humdrum ration shops, a painfully dismal restaurant scene, and a decrepit and scruffy central park that is crying out for an architectural version of the 'extreme makeover', the local buzz in Matanzas' dilapidated streets is as downbeat as it is elusive. If it's five-star comforts you're after hop on a Víazul bus straight back to Planet Varadero. But if the thought of authentic rumba drumming, beer over dominoes or the chance to meet some genuinely hospitable locals makes you fidget on your beachside sun-lounger, gritty, in-your-face Matanzas could be the place for you. Welcome to the real Cuba amigos!
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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19 February 2013
A 20km peninsula of white-gold sand flanked by fifty plus all-inclusive hotels: it’s no wonder the foreign tourists flocking to...