Not only does the City of Catamarca stand out due to its natural beauty but also as a result of the cultural and archeological richness it bears. And even because of the feeling of peace in its streets.
San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca
is the capital city of the province
. It is located 1.151 kilometers from Buenos Aires
and about 500 meters above sea level. Catamarca is a very beautiful city which combines delightful natural landscapes with a wide variety of artistic and cultural attractions.
Surrounded by ravines and mountains, an unequivocal characteristic of Northwestern Argentina, it was elected capital city in June 5th, 1683. As a consequence, the Quinmivil Valley was no longer the center of the Spanish settlement chosen by the Crown in this prosperous region.
By that time, it had been a long time since many Spanish colonists, who produced cotton fiber to sell to other provinces and even to Upper Peru, had settled in the valley area and asked the king of Spain to centralize all political activities in order to create a permanent settlement.
Then, Fernando Mendoza de Mate de Luna was in charge of the transfer, and the city adopted the name of San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, to honor its mayor.Various Feelings
The capital city of the province lets tourists enjoy its natural landscapes, which combine mountain ranges and ravines with typical vegetation of arid zones: ferns, cardons and scrublands. Everything in a very relaxed environment. In fact, the city has only 160 thousand inhabitants; therefore, city tours are enjoyed in an unusual quietness not found in other big cities.
The capital city incites tourists to increase their feeling of peace by just taking a short walk starting downtown along El Tala River and gets into a five-hectare natural forest where native flora and fauna can be observed.
Colonial architecture is the predominant style of the city constructions, with big old houses, tile roofs, window railing, enormous courtyards, but a few two-story houses.
Its central area of about ten blocks, offers visitors several options to get closer to the history of Northwestern Argentina and of the whole country.
A typical tour is the visit to the Casa de Gobierno
(Government House), the cathedral
and the picturesque 25 de Mayo Square. The Adan Quiroga Archeological Museum is one of those sites where 10-thousand-year-old pieces of pottery can be observed. Furthermore, the Laureano Brizuela Fine Arts Museum houses the biggest art gallery in the province and a library specialized in artistic work.
Each year by the end of July, the city dresses up to celebrate the Poncho
National Festival, which is considered one of the most important craftsmen meetings in the country, where various garments made of vicuna
and typical ponchos
are exhibited, besides other items bearing the local stamp from many areas all round the country. Of course, in this celebration dancing and folk music are inevitable: they are the center of attention delighting dwellers and visitors, who during the last few years have come from the most remote cities in the world.
Bear in mind: Due to the wide variety of local products in the Valley today, it is possible to buy first quality items at a very low cost. For example, olive oil, nuts, jelly and jams of different kinds and flavors, and the irresistible and very nutritious carob alfajor.