If there was an effective remedy to cure nostalgia for the past, with the right prescription one could buy it at the French pharmacy Triolet, which since 1882 has opened its doors in the historical center of Matanzas, in western Cuba.
An atmosphere tinged with old essences brought from distant lands, books of formulas, cedar shelves, Bohemian glass pediments, Sevres porcelain jars and other relics, awaits visitors in the best preserved 19th century French drugstore in the world.
With a privileged location in the second city’s main square, the pharmacy occupies a building representative of neoclassicism in the domestic architecture of the city known as Atenas de Cuba for its socioeconomic and cultural splendour of the past.
Checking the magnificent state in which the institution is conserved, National Monument, converted into a Pharmaceutical Museum since 1964, constitutes an unpostponable point in the agenda of international visitors passing through Matanzas, as recognized by the influential travel website TripAdvisor.
The first floor of the building has access to the pharmacy with its original shelves, drawers and the counter where medicines were previously sold. It also preserves the rebotica with its dispensary table, pill preparation equipment and a huge recipe book.
Everything looks like on a normal 19th century day: warehouses full of jars and bark, in the courtyard the recently washed containers and, near there, a laboratory where the machines that could be used even today are stored.
The second level of the building also seems to have stopped in time, with the spaces and furniture belonging to Dr. Ernesto Triolet Lelievre, a native of Lissy, France, founder of the pharmacy along with Juan Fermín Figueroa.
The collections are authentic: products imported from Spain, France, Germany and the United States, among other countries, and medicines prepared in the store registered in the books of prescriptions settlements, as well as the valuable handcrafted instruments.
Among the most notable pieces is the medal obtained by Dr. Troilet for his participation in the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, more than 800 thousand labels, and volumes of formulas representative of European, North American and Caribbean pharmacopoeia as a register of products produced daily in the pharmacy from its opening until January 1964.
By means of guided tours, the richness of Dr. Triolet’s French pharmacy remains within reach of those who come from any region of the world to discover this heritage jewel of the city of Matanzas, located about 100 kilometers east of Havana.
For visits: Ciudad de Matanzas, Cuba. 23°02’47.7″N 81°34’43.0″W
by: John Vila Acosta and Roberto Jesús Hernández