Historical Tour around Junín de los Andes

The city is located in the southwest of the Province of Neuquén, by the Chimehuín River. Visiting it implies getting to know different places of social and cultural interest.

We decided to enjoy the city and soon enough we realized that visiting Junín de los Andes is an invitation to the senses. It is opening the eyes to see the century-old streets, listening to the birds singing and smelling the scent of monkey-puzzle trees, willows and poplar trees.

We were touched deeply when we saw the permanent shape of the Lanín Volcano, with its 3,776 meters of height and its snow-covered summit year round.

History goes that Junín de los Andes was founded in 1883 as a fort during the Conquest of the Desert. Little by little, it became a border town with the typical main square, ancestral homes and farm houses scattered around wide streets laid out in the shape of checkerboard.

We started our tour at the local Tourist Office, located by the main square. We had sun glasses on and a city map.

The first stop was the building where the first post office in the city worked in 1900. Right after that, we visited San Martín Square, a wonderful area surrounded by monkey-puzzle trees and pehuen trees which were planted by the Father Gines Ponte.

  • The permanent shape of the Lanín Volcano

    The permanent shape of the Lanín Volcano

  • Your traditional party

    Your traditional party

  • Frequent postcard of the southern towns

    Frequent postcard of the southern towns

  • Fishing, one of its great attractions

    Fishing, one of its great attractions

  • Nuestra Señora de las Nieves y Laura Vicuña sanctuary

    Nuestra Señora de las Nieves y Laura Vicuña sanctuary

The design of the square was done by Colonel Brondsted in 1897, who named it after Bartolomé Mitre. However, since there was no bust of the national hero but having one of the country’s Liberator San Martín, the name was changed. It was officially opened on August 17th, 1950.

We visited the first parish church opposite the square. It was built in 1893. It was made of reed, mud, straw, the faith and good will of the settlers and the chief of the Mountain Infantry Regiment 26. We were told that the first mass was celebrated on August 15th, 1897. In 1902, due to bad construction conditions, the building was closed and in 1925 it was demolished.

We also visited the Moisés Roca Jalil Museum, home of one of the first storekeepers in the town. Moisés turned the original general store La Flor del Día into a historical present of great value. More than four hundred items of Mapuche knitting, as well as fire arms, riding tack, antiques, musical instruments, archaeological remains and testimonies from the Conquest of the Desert are preserved at this venue. The town’s history “sleeps" there.

We left the museum and right at the corner, before crossing the street, we visited a restaurant which has become a must of local cooking, Ruca Hueney. That same place used to be home to the Hotel Lanín, one of the first buildings in the city, owned by Jose Julián.

One of the most interesting places on the tour was Colegio Maria Auxiliadora, built at the beginning of the 20th century by the first sisters who arrived from Chile. They had the intention of opening a school for indigenous girls.

What is interesting and sad about this school is centered upon the story of a student called Laura Vicuña. The girl, together with her mother and sister, came from Chile and lived at estancia Quilquihue. The mother worked as a housekeeper and the two girls attended the boarding school as students. One day, Laura discovered that her mother was cohabiting with the owner of the estancia and, since it was considered a sin, decided to offer her own life to redeem her mother and died at the age of 13, on January 22nd, 1904, after suffering from a long disease.

Affected by this sad story, we continued our walk towards Nuestra Señora de las Nieves y Laura Vicuña sanctuary, where the foundation stone of the current church is located. The remains of Father Domingo Milanesio, first Salesian to evangelize the area, can be found there. A crafted urn can be seen at the entrance and it safeguards one vertebra of Laura Vicuña.

We made our next stop opposite the sanctuary: the City Town Hall and the Centennial Square. The remains of Sergeant Major Miguel Vidal, founder of the fort which gave origin to the town, rest there.

We also visited the Mapuche Museum, which displays archaeological and paleontological artifacts from the whole province, as well as crafts and musical items. Chimehuín Inn is another attraction. Built in 1947, it is known for the cuisine and the kind service its owners provide.

Finally, we made it to the highest point in our tour. It is the dreamed corner that works as a resort and recreational area. We sat down there to relax, rest and enjoy one of the most wonderful and quietest landscapes in Junín de los Andes.

Autor Pablo Etchevers Fotografo Eduardo Epifanio

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