Matanzas, a prosperous, culturemided city that was founded in 1693 and which some call the Athens of Cuba, in reference to its many poets, and others the Cuban Venice, due to the five bridges that cross it at different streches of its Yumuri and San Juan rivers.Monumental buildings of neclassical features are a proof of the boom that this quiet city has experienced beginning in late 18th century. Matanzas grew around a large bay, well protected by a solid network of fotresses the most important of which can still be visited and admired today.
Matanzas is also the birth place of the Cuban national dance "The Danzon" and of the "Danzonete"; it was and still is a prominent rumba dancing place, and the home town of numerous artists, composers, and intellectuals, who are responsible for the city's traditionally intense, thriving cultural life. At the head of the harbor, close to the downtown center, you'll find a couple of small stretches of beach, where there will almost always be a few locals swimming, fishing, and sunbathing. However, the harbor is quite industrial and I'd highly recommend you head over to Varadero for some much more inviting beaches.