History of Cafayate

Cafayate, the Cradle of Folklore Cafayateis a term of Quichua origin which is claimed to have various ethymologies: water ravine, great lake or lake of the chief.

Very close to its present location, lie the ruins of Tolombón, the center of the prehyspanic diaguita settlement in the core of the Santa María Valley, 1,600 m.a.s.l., at the foot of the Cajón Mountain Range. These ruins constitute one of the most important discoveries carried out so far within the Argentinian territories.

The ruins are made up by the city itself, a pucará or fortress, two ravines along which the pucará is reached -fortified by a complicated system of parapets and precincts- and a group of houses.

The first Incas arrived from Perú approximately in 1480 and the Spanish conquerors entered the scene in 1535. It was the local Indians who fought and resisted the most. Their testimonies are still appreciated in districts such as Yacochuga, Chusca, San Isidro, El Divisadero, and especially in Tolombón.

Doña Josefa Antonia Frías de Aramburu, widow of Don Ignacio Aramburu, mayor of Salta in 1768, donated the necessary land, located between Santa María and San Carlos, for the foundation of the town of Cafayate, which did not take place until 1840, when Don Manuel Fernando de Aramburu, as patron of that foundation and complying with his mother's will, put Don Rosendo Frías in charge of marking out the bondaries of the town.

Thus, in the joint of the Santa María and the Calchaquí Valleys and in the ravine of the Las Conchas River, surrounded by beautiful sights of Mounts Tres Cruces and Morales, at the foot of the San Isidro, stands Cafayate.

In 1840, the definitive boundaries were marked out and, in 1863, the town became independent from San Carlos, to which jurisdiction it used to belong, and provincial law on November 14, passed by Governor Juan M. De Uriburu, provided for the creation of the District of Cafayate divided into four sections: Lorohuasi, Yacochuya, Tolombón and Las Conchas. In January 1866, Mr. Sigifredo Brachieri was appointed first mayor at the same time the first municipal council was constituted.

In 1875, the hospital was created. In 1896, the Banco de la Nación Argentina was inaugurated. In 1926, the first electrical power plant was installed, which worked until 1945 and, in 1959, the works to pave the streets began.

The present church, consecrated on January 4, 1895, was raised by father Julián Toscano and it is one of the three churches in America to have 5 aisles.

Cafayate, is also known as the cradle of folklore. In 1974, the most important folklore festival in Northern Argentina, “Serenade to Cafayate”, was created by Mr. Arnaldo Etchart. This festival welcomes the most important celebrities of the Argentinian music on the Payo Sola stage every year.

In the late XIX century, the population of Cafayate already reached 5,000 inhabitants and, with the coming of the new century, it continued to grow until this date, when more than 10,000 people dwell the district. 80% of these people live in the urban area, that is to say, the town of Cafayate. The rest are distributed into the towns of Tolombón and Las Conchas, which are the farthest, and in the rural surroundings of Lorohuasi and Yacochuya.

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