The Bellamar Caves: one of the biggest tourist attractions in Matanzas
Near the historic center of Matanzas, just 2 km away are Las Cuevas de Bellamar, one of the major tourist attractions in the province and an ideal place to visit on your tour of Cuba. Visitors do not have access to most of this karst formation; but it is well worth enjoying a tour of a portion of 500 meters, a safe area, with the necessary conditions for air circulation and that has electricity, stairs to go down and railings in dangerous places …
No more than three years ago a gallery was opened that specialists have called “The path of sponges.” It is an opportunity for those interested in ecological tourism and caving: the experience is a bit complicated because it is in a natural state. Only a small group enters it, less than 10 people, with the necessary equipment and a guide who knows the place.
On this tour, you can enjoy the beauty of stalactites whose ends hang conglomerates of massive calcite crystals. Glassware of this size and rarity is not known to exist anywhere else in the world.
The network of galleries of the Cuevas de Bellamar, which was originally called La Cueva de Parga, extends for more than 20 km. The historical documents date its discovery on April 17, 1861 and assure that it was the result of an act of daring by the owner of the farm, the Spanish miner Don Manuel Santos Pargas.
Despite the superstitions, Don Manuel excavated around the site where, supposedly, a working instrument had been mysteriously lost. This allowed him the privilege of being the first to observe what was later called the Gothic Hall and from its beginnings it was one of the greatest natural beauties in the country.
The insightful miner immediately appreciated the extensive tourist possibilities of the cave, so he invested a lot of money in fitting it out, built a staircase and later began commercialization. According to the media, during its first year, it received 2,000 visitors. Keep in mind that it had little publicity, so the figure is significant.
The Gothic Hall is a chamber that measures about 80 meters long by about 25 meters wide. Its formations have been given names such as: The Garden of Carrots, The Chapel of the Twelve Apostles, Doña Mamerta and the Manto de Colón.
To the east of this room are other cavities. They are: the Gallery of the Two Lakes, the Hall of Sponges, the Gallery of the Dwarves and the Gallery of the Megalocnus. If, on the contrary, you take the opposite direction, you will find the Hatuey passage, the Hall of the Ladies, the Lake of the Dalias and the Bath of the Americana. Visiting groups generally prefer the second option as they find the path to ‘the fountain of youth’ tempting.
Every year the number of visitors who are ecstatic by the amazing stalagmites and stalactites is greater. Again and again, they repeat their journey to this wonderful place and discover the secrets inside its chambers: the pictograms of the indigenous peoples, the beauty of its network of rivers and streams, the colors of the stones.
Have you visited the Bellamar Caves? Give us your impressions.