Matamoros is a city of 520,000 people (2016) in Tamaulipas in Mexico. Matamoros is a major historical site, the site of several battles and events of the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican Revolution, the Texas Revolution, the Mexican–American War, the American Civil War, and the French Intervention as a result of which the city earned its title of "Undefeated, Loyal, and Heroic".
Matamoros faces the United States-Mexico border across the Rio Grande River from the city of Brownsville, near where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of several major land crossings between the United States and Mexico.
Since the 1970s, and especially during the 1990s, after the initiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, foreign investment has multiplied in Matamoros, resulting in an enormous population growth, prominently from other Mexican states, like San Luis Potosí and Veracruz. The city's economy has shifted from agriculture to maquiladora manufacturing. This industry produces technological goods like cables, electrical appliances, electrical components, vehicle parts and accessories, textiles, chemical products, machinery, and computer products.
Matamoros has a semiarid climate, with mild winters and hot, humid summers. Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico accompanies cooler winds during the summers and winters, compared to its sister cities of Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo, which are farther inland. Summer temperatures range from 30 to 40 °C (86 to 104 °F).
Heavy rainfall is usually seen during the months of July and August, although it is not uncommon to go about without any rain whatsoever during the "wet" season. The average temperatures during the winters usually range around 0–10 °C (32 to 50 °F); this season is usually attended with rain, drizzle, and fog.
If crossing from the U.S. by foot, all three bridges between Brownsville and Matamoros charge a US$1 toll (and a US$0.25 toll to return). The turnstile is on the right side of the vehicle lanes in either direction.
You must bring a passport if you plan to return to the U.S., though you can enter the border zone of Mexico without it and will almost certainly not be asked to present documents. Mexican customs or the military or both may ask to search your bags, if you are carrying something. Note that in Brownsville U.S. customs officials do sometimes stop pedestrians heading for the bridge crossing and question them.
The wait to enter Mexico is negligible, but if you are planning to walk back across the bridge to the U.S. you might want to time it so that you do not have to stand for 30 minutes in extreme heat and humidity.
The bridge furthest east, the Veterans International Bridge at the end of Highway 77 on the Texas side, is not recommended for pedestrian crossing; it was designed for long-haul trucks and is a much longer bridge (and thus longer walk) than the other two. The bridge at International Blvd. is the shortest walk and more accessible to downtown Matamoros upon crossing.
If you follow International Blvd. south out of Brownsville, you'll cross over a short toll bridge (~US$2) and immediately be on Av. Alvaro Obregón. Border customs and security in the U.S.-to-Mexico direction is light, at worst a cursory glance-over, after which you'll immediately find yourself plunged into the streets and traffic of Matamoros.
If you're only planning to visit the "border zone," an area extending roughly 25 km (15 miles) south from the border, you won't need a vehicle importation permit or a tourist card. If you intend to venture farther into Mexico, however, it's easiest to obtain your vehicle importation permit first thing at the border. Right after crossing the international bridge (literally at the foot of the bridge), you'll see a white building on your right housing all offices you may need to deal with: the Mexican Tourist office, Banjercito branch, and several Mexican automotive insurance (Seguros de Autos) vendors.
- 1 Museo Casamata (Museum of Casamata), Santos Degollado Street and Guatemala esq. S / N Colonia Modelo, ☏ . Tu-F 08:00-16:00, Sa 09:00-14:00. Fortress of Casamata, converted into Museum Casamata in 1970, was a bastion that now guards a fine collection of prehispanic figurines and artifacts dating from central historic moments: the Spanish colonist era, the Mexican War of Independence, and the contentious Mexican Revolution. Unique and curious items are also exhibited, such as an iron casket where the remains of fearless General Canales once rested (fought against both American and French invasions) and the dark tunnels lounged beneath the construction, inevitable reference for local horror stories.
- The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Tamaulipas (MACT). Inaugurated in 1969, it is the largest and most important art museum in the city, and one of the most memorable in the state of Tamaulipas. Art and photo exhibitions are held yearlong at MACT. Artworks from Mexico City, Monterrey, New York City, Los Angeles, Milan, and Paris have been displayed at this museum.
- The central plaza is home to the Presidential Offices, the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora Villa del Refugio, and of the Casino Matamorense, along with other historical buildings.
- The Teatro Reforma, the most important theater in the city, is found a few blocks away.
- The Cathedral of Nuestra Señora Villa del Refugio, constructed in 1831, was one of the first mayor constructions and is one of the present symbols of the city. Its neoclassical architecture, along with its rich, historical background, attracts visitors yearlong.
- The Casino Matamorense, constructed in 1950, is traditionally considered the center of social gatherings for the principal families of Matamoros.
- Also with its unique architecture, Centro Cultural Olimpico, is a historical creation built in the city. Nothing like it had been done before.
- The Teatro Reforma, once considered the 'House of the Opera of the 19th Century', was constructed in 1861. For decades, the theater was home to important balls held by the richest families of Matamoros and the high-ranking military officers of the state. In addition, 'Teatro Reforma' is well known for being the first place in history where the Mexican National Anthem was played.
- Matamoros and Brownsville are home to the Charro Days and Sombrero Festival, two-nation fiestas that commemorate the heritage of the U.S. and Mexico which are celebrated every February.
- Bagdad Beach (Playa Bagdad), also known as Lauro Villar Beach, is 27 km (17 mi) east of Matamoros, hosts important fishing tournaments each year. During Holy Week, the beach experiences an abundant presence of visitors, primarily from Nuevo León, when Playa Bagdad becomes the host of several concerts, sport tournaments, and festivals. Playa Bagdad has several seafood restaurants. Jet ski, surfing, motocross and off-road 4x4 racing are allowed with few area restrictions.
- 1 Garcia's Restaurant, Alvaro Obregón #82 Col. Jardín (Walk across Gateway Bridge and after checking in with customs continue along the same street about one block), ☏ . Popular restaurant only one block from Gateway Bridge to Brownsville. In addition to the restaurant and bar, attached shops sell curios, crafts and clothing. There is also a liquor store and pharmacy. Along with Garcia's restaurants in Brownsville and Nuevo Progreso, the family's restaurants seeks to preserve and demonstrate Mexican culture and traditions.
- 1 Best Western Hotel Plaza Matamoros, 9th Y Bravo Street 1421, ☏ . A nice, modern hotel. Prices are about US$50-75, which includes parking and breakfast.
As of Oct 2020, the United States Department of State travel advisory recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to the state of Tamaulipas because of crime and kidnapping. Criminal activity is more common along the northern border, including Matamoros.
The U.S. Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council issued a Crime and Safety Report for Matamoros in February 2017 that rated it a "Critical Threat for Crime".
In spite of U.S. State Department warnings, many people walk across Gateway Bridge from Brownsville to Matamoros and walk the short distance to Garcia's Restaurant, bar, and attached shops, liquor store and pharmacy. It is strongly recommended to proceed no further.
|Routes through Matamoros|
|Reynosa ← Ciudad Rio Bravo ←||W E||→ Playa Lauro Villar → END|
|Brownsville ← becomes ← ←||N S||→ Jct → Ciudad Victoria|