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Matanzas is the capital city of the province of Matanzas on the northern coastline of Cuba. It is located on the Bay of Matanzas, 56 miles east of Havana and 20 miles west of Varadero. It has three nicknames, all of which serve to illustrate its rich cultural identity, being "City of Bridges," "Venice of Cuba," and "Athens of Cuba." The large number of bridges in the city is due to the fact that three rivers run through it, being the Rio Yumuri, San Juan, and Canimar, also leading to its comparison to Venice. The city is additionally known as an intellectual and melodic location for poets, drawing its comparisons to a classical Athens.

In 1690, the Spanish empire ordered by royal decree that 30 families from the Canary Islands should settle this location, due to its valuable situation on the bay, which had already been in use by the Spanish for decades. The actual town was founded in 1693. During the Colonial era, Matanzas grew wealthy off of sugar plantations and the slave trade. At its peak, in 1817, the number of African slaves in the city equaled 50% of its total population.

Today, Matanzas is recognized as a unique and individual city. It is notable for its African-Cuban folklore, poets, relaxed beauty, history, architecture, beaches, riverfront and maritime activities, and culture.

People Born in Matanzas

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Matanzas in People's Lives

Pedro de Alvarado: I traveled here on a conquistador expedition in 1519. At the time, there was only a rudimentary setup to recieve ships at the bay here, and the actual city had not yet been founded.


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