Region of the center of Argentina

Córdoba, Rosario, La Pampa…


Cordoba, the second largest city of Argentina, with over 1.5 million inhabitants, is the capital city of the homonymous province. It was founded in 1573, before Buenos Aires, within the Viceroyalty of Peru, a region strategically located between Lima and the Atlantic coast. The Jesuits carried out an essential role in this city, founding the first university of the country. It is still an important cultural, commercial, tourism and university epicenter. Its architecture is a combination of past and present, which gives it an unmistakable mark; an example is the Jesuit Apple which was recently declared World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Cordoba also offers, only half an hour away, an exceptional natural environment made up of mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls.


The Jesuits settled in Cordoba, from the moment of its foundation, in an “apple” or block granted by the king, as it was done with all religious orders. There they decided to create the capital of the missions of the future province of Paraguay. Its order was created with two objectives: evangelization and education. Thus, a university with an exceptional library, a novitiate and a church were founded. To finance their projects, they raised cattle and cultivated land in the estancias installed around the city. This colonial area was declared World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2000 and is alone worth the visit to this magnificent province. The too powerful Company of Jesus left deep marks in the city of Cordoba until its expulsion from these lands in 1767.


Founded in 1622, Santa Catalina is the biggest of five Jesuit estancias which may still be visited today (San Ignacio disappeared). Over an extension of 100000 hectares, the Jesuits raised in this establishment 25000 head of cattle: ox, sheep and mules for the transportation of goods. Likewise, this is the only private estancia and their owners only allow the visit of the church if you stay in their establishment. This white baroque style church was recently refurbished, and is, without a doubt, the most attractive of all the estancia-based churches.


Founded in 1618, the Jesus Maria estancia specialized in the wine production which gave birth to the distinguished Lagrimilla de Oro, one of the first wines of America, served on the table of the kings of Spain. The estancia houses an interesting museum, which clearly explains the evangelizing mission of the Jesuits. The museum also displays very realistic religious images and sculptures, which express great suffering. Another curiosity of the estancia: the bathrooms, responding to a common criteria in Jesuit constructions, was equipped with an ultramodern system for the time, which used potable water and an aseptic pit in between two walls.


The criollo-style Estancia Caroya is one of the first founded by the Jesuits in 1616. Every month, from these lands, bags of flour, fruits and vegetables, vinegar, wine and spirits were sent to the city. After the expulsion of the Jesuits, the estancia knew many destinies: firearms factory, post, residence for immigrant. During the Independence wars in the beginning of the XIX century, several generals of the Nation met at the estancia to decide the future of the country.


Erected in the middle of the mountain, 220 km (137 miles) from Cordoba, La Candelaria is the youngest of all estancias (1683). It was essentially a breeding site for mules, the main means of transporting goods from High Peru, in times of the colony. Its distance from the city and isolation explain its particular architecture, with thick walls and few openings. The small beautiful church stands out, whitened with lime.


The Estancia Alta Gracia was founded in 1643, and is the only one located in the heart of a small village. Its walls are a definite display of baroque architecture. On one of its flanks, you can observe a cutwater, a water reservoir built with the detour of the course of the river in order to water crops. The estancia houses the Historical House and Museum of Vice-king Liniers. Santiago de Liniers, which’s real name was Jacques, was a French immigrant turned marine officer during the Spanish colony who organized the resistance against the English invasions in 1806 and 1807.


Built in the midst of the mountain, at an altitude of 1141 meters (3743 feet) and 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Cordoba, the town of La Cumbre owes its fame to hang-gliding. The landing strip of Cuchi Corral received the World Cup in 1999. There you will be able to carry out your tandem and parachute baptism. The fertile and green Punilla Valley also offers a gamma of activities such as walks, mountain biking, horseback riding, golf and swimming in its rivers. The settling of English families in the region for the building of railroads in the beginning of the XX century explains the European architecture which characterizes La Cumbre.


Excursion at Champaqui Located southwest of Cordoba, Calamuchita Valley is the paradise of hiking fans, in a landscape of green mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Mt. Champaqui, the highest mountain of the Sierras with 2790 meters (9154 feet) is exclusively reserved to athletic spirits. Guided excursions leave from La Cumbrecita, a quite town, completely pedestrian and surrounded by pines, located in an area in a protected environment. It was founded by Germans at the turn of the XX century.


A summer resort, Villa Carlos Paz is located 36km from Córdoba, on the shores of Roque lake in Sierra Chicas. In summer, tourists flow there to spend their holidays by the water particularly attracted by the numerous water sports and its great night life. Villa Carlos Paz is located on the route of National Park El Condorito.


The town of Mina Clavero, some 170 km to the Southwest of Córdoba, after Quebrada del Condorito, is a very coveted summer resort. It is crossed by a river with crystal-clear waters skirted by beaches and nice promenades. In its outskirts there are natural ponds and gorges in a very pleasant low mountain landscape. The ideal place for resting, trekking and horse riding. After the small town of Nono, a curiosity: Rocsen museum where an anthropologist and collector has gathered over 11.000 electric items including a great number of antiques.


El Condorito National Park (37000 hectares) was created in 1996 to preserve the condor, an absolutely emblematic species of the Andes region. Condors nest in defiles at 1900 – 2300 meters (6234 – 7546 feet) and with some luck and good binoculars we will be able to see chicks learning to fly, a unique but sporadic show. To reach the observation cliff you’ll need to walk 10 km (6.2 miles) from the park entrance, which’s access is located on Provincial Route 34, between Cordoba and Mina Clavero, in the south of the province.


North of Sierras Chicas at 1200 meters (3937 feet), Ongamira is a 120 million year old pillar, reddish rocks molded by wind and rain. It was the land of the Comechgon natives, who attempted to resist the attacks of the Spanish conquerors taking refuge in the numerous grottos of the pillar. Today, Ongamira is a landscape which transmits absolute quiet.


Cordoba North of Punilla Valley, nature created a landscape strange and unknown: Los Terrones. As in Ongamira, the erosion of time and weather marked fun shapes in these sandy pillars. Some see the faces of heroes, turtles or camels. Others give credit to legends and even the apparition of UFOs; rivers have formed gorges or hollows. The park, located at 1400 meters (4593 feet), is a protected area accessible via the town of Capilla del Monte.


Northwest of Cordoba lays Mar Chiquita, the largest saltwater lagoon in Argentina, with 6000 square km (3728 square miles). Its salinity, which comes from the sulfate sodium present in its base, surpasses that of the ocean, though various freshwater species have successfully adapted. 350 species of birds have made the lagoon their home, such as the pink flamenco and the parrot, as well as other migratory birds (the Peregrine Falcon in December). The wind and waves give it the look of a real interior ocean. Its shoreline is not inhabited and the site, protected by the Mar Chiquita National Park, still conserves its nature.


The Chaco National Park was created in 1954, throughout an extension of 15000 hectares, 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Resistencia, with the aim of protecting the quebracho forests, a tree rich in tannin, abusively exploited for many years by the leather industry. It is a wet subtropical region, made up of savannahs of palm trees and marshes. It has great plant and wildlife diversity and constitutes the ideal refuge for the howling monkey and parrot. The Tobas and Mocovies communities, descendents of the first inhabitants of the region, live near the Park. The best season to discover Chaco runs from April to October.


The Pilcomayo River National Park was created in 1951, on 48000 hectares, to preserve a typical ecosystem of the wet and eastern lagoon-filled Chaco. It is located on the border with Paraguay, 130 km (81 miles) north of Formosa. There the rhea, an endangered species similar to the ostrich, can be seen, as well as the maned wolf, near extinction, and the red-legged Seriema, a bird which prefers walking to flying. The White Lagoon, which covers 800 hectares, is the most important water point, where caimans and yellow anacondas lurk.


Not very well-known, this 400,000-hectare humid area, situated 300km to the west of Formosa, is fed by the swellings of the river Pilcomayo. This lake system, classified as protected area, causes the formation of a subtropical microclimate in a semi-arid region. As in Esteros del Iberá, it is a very rich and beautiful ecosystem. The floodable forests of palm trees, aulnes or quebrachos of the marshland La Estrella are home to capybaras, caimans, tapirs, ant-eaters and numerous serpents.


Rosario Rosario is the major city in the province of Santa Fe, although Santa Fé is the provincial capital city. Together with the suburbs it has over 1.1 million inhabitants. It is therefore the third largest city in Argentina, after Buenos Aires and Córdoba. Located on the right bank of Paraná River, Rosario is an important trade port, a major economic center and a pleasant city in the Argentinean littoral. The National Historial Flag Monument commemorates the first time the Argentinean flag was hoisted, in 1812. Rosario is the native city of Ernesto Che Guevara, and a first rate contemporary art center, with the Castignino and Macro museums and the cultural center of Spanish Park.