Casamata is the only remaining fort, from a series of several small forts which surrounded Matamoros in the mid 1800s. Since 1970 Casamata has housed a museum of regional history, along with a historical library. Although the staff was friendly, we thought the place to be dimly lit and the artifacts poorly displayed. The descriptions are entirely in Spanish, whereas most museums on the north side of the border have signs in both English and Spanish. The history of Matamoros is long and fascinating. We thought it deserved a better treatment. Still this will be an interesting stop for the ardent history buff.
Hours: Monday - Friday 8-4, and Saturday 8-2.
Admission is free.
In various publications we have seen this Spanish-style plaza called the Main Square, Higlado Square, and Plaza of the Constitution. Regardless of the name it is the main square or plaza in Matamoros and is a small island of green and tranquility in the heart of the bustling city. Although we were told the place is crowded on weekends, only a few people could be seen on the Wednesday morning of our visit. On one side of the square is the City Hall (Presidencia Municipal H. Matamoros), and on the other is the Cathedral.
Matamoros City Hall (Presidencia Municipal H. Matamoros) is the seat of government for this thriving metropolis of almost one million people. It is an imposing three story structure originally built in 1831. Over the years the building has undergone many changes. It was last reconstructed in 1995, to reflect the French Creole style of the original building. Tours are available.
Known to most people locally as simply "El Mercado," the market is a five block long pedesterian street in the center of Matamoros. It is the primary place in the city most tourists visit, however it is not a market for tourists only. We saw perhaps 20 or more local people for every Gringo. Just about anything can be bought here, and the prices are generally somewhat cheaper than in the U.S. The biggest hassle was overzealous merchants trying to pull us into their shops as we walked along, but it was not as bad in this regard as some places we have been.
In 1958 Pope John XXIII created the New Dioceses of Matamoros and assigned as Cathedral the Church of Nuestra Senora del Refugio (Our Lady of Refuge.) First built in 1832, it has suffered many hurricanes and has been rebuilt many times, always maintaining its original French Creole style. The Cathedral is a magnificent old structure, but not as opulent as some you will find in other cities. Neither is it filled with gawking tourists. To us all cathedrals are special places. We slipped in and sat a while quitely, trying not to disturb those who had come to pray.
Don Muguel Hidalgo Costilla y Gallaga was the Father of Mexican Independence, September 15, 1810. This statue was erected as a tribute to him by the town of Matamoros, July 30, 1951. Click on the web site below to learn more about Hidalgo.