While Matamoros could hardly be described as a cultural mecca, it has the most to offer of all the gritty Mexican border towns that dot the frontier with Texas. With a cluster of historic buildings, a decent contemporary art museum and some stylish restaurants, it makes a relatively easygoing base, though most visitors here are day-trippers from el otro lado (the other side).
The city has a shady plaza dotted with a fine blue-tiled Mudéjar bandstand and fountains. Standing on the west side of the square is a Gothic-style cathedral with twin bell towers and a dusky pink facade. Some 150 maquiladoras sit west and south of the city.
The area was dubbed Los Esteros Hermosos (The Beautiful Estuaries) by Captain Juan José de Hinojosa, who explored the area in 1706, but it wasn’t until 1765 that 13 families settled on the south side of the river. The city was later renamed after Padre Mariano Matamoros, who died during Mexico’s battle for independence.
In 1846, Mexican forces in Matamoros attacked the Americans stationed in Fort Texas (later renamed Fort Brown) on the opposite side of the Río Bravo del Norte. In short order General Zachary Taylor’s troops routed the Mexican army, took over Matamoros and marched south toward Mexico City.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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(3 star Hotel)