MATANZAS, an important city of Cuba, capital of Matanzas Province, situated on a large deep bay on the N. coast, about 54 m. (by rail) E. of Havana. Pop. (1907), 36,009. There are railway outlets W., S. and E., and Matanzas is served by steamships to New York and by the coast steamers of the Herrera Line. The bay, unlike all the other better harbours of the island, has a broad mouth, 2 m. across, but there is good shelter against all winds except from the N.E. A coral reef lies across the entrance. Three rivers emptying into the bay the San Juan, Canimar and Yumuri have deposited much silt, necessitating the use of lighters in loading and unloading large ships. The city is finely placed at the head of the bay, on a low, sloping plain backed by wooded hills, over some of which the city itself has spread. The conical Pan de Matanzas (1277 ft.) is a striking land-mark for sailors. The San Juan and Yumuri rivers divide Matanzas into three districts. The Teatro Esteban, Casino Espanol and Government House are noteworthy among the buildings. The broad Paseo de Marti (Alameda de Versalles, Paseo de Santa Cristina) extends along the edge of the harbour, and is perhaps the handsomest parkway and boulevard in Cuba. At one end is a statue of Ferdinand VII., at the other a monument to 63 Cubans executed by the Spanish Government as traitors for bearing arms in the cause of independence. A splendid military road continues the Paseo to the Castillo de San Serverino (built in 1694-1695, reconstructed in 1773 and following years). There are two smaller forts, established in the 18th century. Near Matanzas are two of the most noted natural resorts of Cuba: the valley of the Yumuri, and the caves of Bellamar. Commanding the Yumuri Valley is the hill called Cumbre, on which is the Hermitage of Monteserrate (1870), with a famous shrine. Matanzas is the second port of the island in commerce. Sugar and molasses are the chief exports. The city is the chief outlet for the sugar product of the province, which, with the province of Santa Clara, produces two-thirds of the crop of the island. There are many large warehouses, rum distilleries, sugar-mills and railway machine-shops. Matanzas is frequently mentioned in the annals of the 16th and 17th centuries, when its bay was frequented by buccaneers; but the city was not laid out until 1693. In the next year it received an ayuntamienlo (council). Its prosperity rapidly increased after the establishment of free commerce early in the igth century. In 1815 it was made a department capital. The mulatto poet, Gabriel de la Concepci6n Valdes, known as Placido (1800-1844), was born in Matanzas, and was executed there for participation in the supposed conspiracy of negroes in 1844, which is one of the most famous episodes in Cuban history. The hurricanes of 1844 and 1846 are the only other prominent local events. American commercial influence has always been particularly strong.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)