Cardenas, Cuba


Street in Cárdenas

Motto: Primus In Cuba

Cárdenas municipality (red) within
Matanzas Province (yellow) and Cuba

Coordinates: 23°02′34″N 81°12′13″W / 23.04278°N 81.20361°W / 23.04278; -81.20361Coordinates: 23°02′34″N 81°12′13″W / 23.04278°N 81.20361°W / 23.04278; -81.20361

Country  Cuba
Province Matanzas-MTZ
Founded 1828[1]
Established 1859
 • Total 577.88 km2 (223.12 sq mi)
Elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Population (2007)[3]
 • Total 153,087
 • Density 182.1/km2 (472/sq mi)
Demonym Cardenense
Time zone EST (UTC-6)
Postal code 42110
Area code(s) +53 45

Cárdenas (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkaɾðenas]), Calle Calzada Cárdenas is a municipality and city in the Matanzas Province of Cuba, about 175 km (109 mi) east of Havana. Per population is the 15th Cuban city and the second most populated one not being a provincial seat, after Manzanillo.


Cárdenas is a maritime port town on the level and somewhat marshy shore of a spacious bay of the northern coast of the island (Bay of Cárdenas), sheltered by a long promontory (Hicacos peninsula, including the Varadero beach resort). The city lies between the sea and hills.

A large quantity of asphalt has been taken from the bed of the harbour. A flow of fresh water from the bed of the harbour is another peculiar feature; it presumably comes from the outlets of subterranean rivers.

There are mostly narrow streets, various squares (including the Plaza de Colón, with a bronze statue of Columbus given to the city by Queen Isabella II. and erected in 1862) and substantial and elegant business and public buildings, including the ornate parish church designed by Architect Rafael Carrerá, who also built the famous Palacio Aldama in Central Havana.[4]

The city is divided into the barrios of Cantel, Fundición, Guásimas, Marina, Méndez Capote, Pueblo Nuevo and Versalles.[1]

The world-famous beach resort of "Varadero" is part of the Municipality of Cárdenas.


Cárdenas was founded in 1828,[1] with the help of several old aristocratic Spanish-Cuban families from the nearby provincial capital of Matanzas and in 1861 already had 12,910 inhabitants. The completion of the railroad in 1841 led to further development. Cárdenas was one of the first cities in Cuba to have electric service, public transportation (trams), telegraph and telephone.

The city was peculiar in not being laid out in the traditional central-plaza Spanish custom, but rather, inspired on a North American perpendicular grid pattern, modeled on the city of Charleston, South Carolina, with the help of American (Confederate) landscape engineers.

In 1850 Venezuelan General Narciso López landed here on a filibustering expedition, and held the town for a few hours, abandoning it when he saw that the people would not rise to support him in his efforts to secure Cuban independence.

In May 1898, during the Spanish–American War, three notable battles were fought at Cardenas. However, credit for the republican victories goes mainly to the local Cuban patriot forces, led, among others, by General Carlos M. de Rojas (see below).

In the late 19th century and early 20th Century, Cárdenas was one of the main sugar-exporting towns of Cuba, and had received a great influx of European immigrants, including from Ireland, France, Italy and Corsica - many Cárdenas families were known for having foreign-sounding surnames, such as Jones, Larrieu, Smith, Villa-Giorgi and Sterling, among others.

By 1907 the population was 24,280. The shallowness of the harbour necessitated lighterage and repeated loading of cargoes. The surrounding region is farmed for its fertility.

The Cuban Flag was first raised over Cuban soil in this once picturesque, genteel and historic city of straight and narrow streets (the "Charleston of the Caribbean"), horse-drawn carriages, industry and "cangrejos" (blue crabs).

Cárdenas is also the home of the famous Elián González, a child at the centre of a political controversy between Cuba and the United States in 2000.


In 2007, the municipality of Cárdenas had a population of 103,087.[3] With a total area of 566 km2 (219 sq mi),[2] it has a population density of 182.1 /km2 (472 /sq mi). Cardenas experiences a population growth of 0.24% a year.

Notable people

  • Emilio Bobadilla (1862-1921)
  • Juan Pablo Villar Alemán
  • Joaquin de Rojas (1831-1909) First mayor of Cárdenas; one of the 10 original founders of the famous beach resort of "Varadero" near Cárdenas. Wealthy land owner and industrialist, was at the same time a great philanthropist and patron or the sciences and arts. Father of: Oscar M. de Rojas, creator of the Municipal Museum of Cárdenas; of Alberto de Rojas, also mayor of Cárdenas and entrepraneur; of General Carlos de Rojas, responsible for decisive actions in the Cuban war of independence; and Arturo de Rojas, half-blind, killed during the war. The death of his son was decisive in winning Joaquin, who had been originally of the "autonomist" party (supporting keeping Cuba as a commonwealth in the Spanish empire) over to the cause of Cuban independence.
  • Like many other influential Cárdenas families of the time, the de Rojas, though traditionally dependent on slave labor to run their large agro-industrial land holdings, such as Central "Buena Vista", freed their slaves before slavery was abolished in Cuba and Spain in 1885. The Central Buena Vista sugar mill was deliberately burned by their owners during the last stages of the war of independence in order not to allow it to fall into Spanish-army hands.

See also

Cuba portal


External links

  • Cardenas, Cuba Home Page
  • Càrdenas, Cuba Yanet Home Page
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