Castle of San Severino Castillo

Castle of San Severino Matanzas Cuba

In 2009 the city of Matanzas inaugurated a national museum on the Slave Route in the Castle of San Severino.

The Museum of the Slave Trade in Cuba was opened by UNESCO and tells the riveting story about how the Atlantic slave trade forms an essential part of the shared history of Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Americas.

Designed to bridge generations, the museum is an interesting place to learn about African history, traditions and languages and how they transcended into the Caribbean and the Americas due to the slave trading. Much like the move “12 years a slave” the interest surrounding the Slave Route and resulting museum is to break the silence on the immoral and ignoble practice of which Africa was an unfortunate victim. The Cuban slave trade museum hosts an important exhibition of pictures and texts never before revealed to the public, outlining the practices of the slave traders and the relevance of Cuba in the transatlantic trade. Visitors can learn about calimbo, a practice consisting of branding the African slaves with a red-hot iron when they arrived as if they were animals, to identify them as a purchaser’s property. They were branded on the stomach, arms or back and in the case of females on the chest or legs.

The castle that houses the museum laid its first stone on October 13, 1693 and was completed during the early 1700s. What is now called the  “Sub-Saharan Holocaust” is considered the worst ever known to humanity as Africans were torn from their mother land, never to return to their homes, families or cultures.

Northeast of Versalles in Matanzas the Castillo de San Severino was completed by the Spanish in 1735 as part of Cuba’s defensive ring. Slaves were offloaded during the 18th century. Later, the castle was conspicuously used to imprison Cuban patriots and sometimes the site of mass executions. San Severino Castle remained a prison until the 1970s. The Castle of San Severino now houses the aforementioned Museo de la Ruta de los Esclavos.

The Castle of San Severino with its authentic central square has great views of the Bahía de Matanzas. At a short 2CUC taxi ride from the center of Matanzas City, the Castle of San Severino museum is both an interesting historic venue and a perfect location from which to view the city back across the bay.

To see more museums like the Castle of San Severino in Matanzas and the rest of Cuba, visit Cuba Museums