Cuba, Matanzas

Pharmacy of Matanzas

The pharmacy was constructed January 1st 1882 and prospered as the only pharmacy in all of South America for decades. Dr. Ernesto Trolet Lelievre in collaboration with Juan Fermin de Figueroa Veliz prepared and adminstered all prescriptions. The pharmacy thrived through January 16th of 1964 when it was shut down and turned into a museum. Today it stands a replica of what it was when it first opened its doors in 1882.

It is where the first telephone line was established as calls between the sick and their pharmacist were considered the most important communication within Matanzas and all of Cuba.


IMG_1542The front parlor stands the Virgen made of white Marble imported from Italia. Counters and shelves display medicines which are prepared, still waiting to be sold. Each of the 36 columns, boasted the guide, is carved from one cedar tree. The shelves are lined with handmade porcelain jars, and glass bottles that demonstrate the standard of medicine that was known at the time. There are original scales, and the ‘ojo de boticario’ – eye of the apothecary- which is made of Bohemian glass and guards the sales of the medicine.

Following the corridor to the back of the pharmacy, cabinets are filled with books of handwritten protocols and sacks of original dried herbal mixes. Along the walls are shelves of hand crafted glass bottles. A table holds capsules and cork smushers which sealed the bottles of homemade elixirs.

These books were closed in 1964 and reopened after the USSR fled and the embargo limited all trade with the Island. Cuban doctors referenced the ancient protocols and elixirs to develop medicine for the deserted Island.

The far room of the pharmacy displays the furnaces and refrigerators. In this room, the technicians brewed natural elixirs and stocked drugs to be pulled when needed.


Hanging along the entrance of the museum is the bicycle which, while not original, illustrates what would have been used by the drug runner of Matanzas in the early 20th century. The light which hangs alongside once lit the exterior of the building. It is now kept in doors to keep from aging.

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1 thought on “Pharmacy of Matanzas”

  1. Has there been any effort to scan and preserve the handwritten protocols and elixirs? Are there any particular cures that this pharmacy was noted for?


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