History of Chilecito

The most important viticultural zone of the province is located in the Valleys of Famatina, to the west of the province, between the "Macizo de Velasco" to the East and the "Nevado de Famatina". Chilecito is now located where there used to be an old Inca dairy farm which was the further southern site of the Empire. Diaguitas belonged to a group of cacanoes who lived in lands that currently comprise Catamarca and La Rioja Provinces. The word "diaguitas" , which means "mountaineous people" in quechua language, was given by the Incas who were culturaly related in spite of ther fact that cacá or canana was their mother tonge. The main acyivity was farming and they built terraces and watering systerms. They made clothes and painted decorated ceramics. They lived in towns protected by pucaraes. Their houses were rectangular and were built with the system of pircas ( dry-stone walls). Their main food was corn and they also ate pumpkin, beans, llama meat and patay. They were hardened people, using lances, bows and arrows, and fought the Spanish with courage. The first Spanish settlements started in the XVII th. century. Since then, the mining production which is typical of the area developed itself. During the Spanish conquer, the search of minerals in the new continent- especially gold and silver- became very important. In Argentina, the Fathers of Jesus' Company managed important enterprises which were exploited with rudimentary techniques by native people. Rebuilding history, we get to know that it was on 14th. December, 1643 that the current town of Malligasta was given to Don Gabriel Sarmiento de Vega, husband of Doña Leonor Ibarra y Velasco and father of his only child: José Sarmiento. When his father died, José inherits his property. However, he had previously joined the Jesuits Order and could not own any kind of property and , as a result Malligasta did not have an owner. It was then that another Spanish called Bartolomé de Castro takes advantage of the circumstances and asks for the land offering his services to the Spanish Crown to put down the great Calchaquí uprising. Castro, after obtaining the land and settling up there , gets married to Doña Magdalena Bazán de Pedraza and Domingo de Castro y Bazán is born who inherits the land when his father dies. Domingo de Castro y Bazán gets interested in the land where Chilecito is currently located, asks for the land to Tucumán governor in 1712 obtaining them finally in 1715. Situated at the foot of the imposing Famatina massif ( 6250 meters high) and in front of Sierra de Velasco ( 4250 meters high) and the small foothills of Paimán Range, Domingo de Castro y Bazán founds on 19th. February , 1715 with the name of Santa Rita Village the current city of Chilecito. The name of Chilecito comes from the fact that there was a great immigration of Chilean miners at the end of the XIXth. century to expploit the auriferous richess of the region. At the end of the XIXth. century and beginning of the XXth. century, Chilecito becomes important in the country since it is the most important mining exploitation center. The railway arrives. In 1892, the second branch of Argentina National Bank is created. In 1903, the biggest engineering railway work in the world is made - Chilecito- La mexicana railway being 34 kilometers long, reaching a height of 4500 meters and operating more than ten casting establishments.
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