It is one of the most important museums in the country due to the richness of its heritage, which summarizes centuries of Argentinian and South American history. Located to one side of the 9 de Julio square, where the cabildo (municipal council) used to operate, today observes impassively the busy inhabitants of Salta going through its galleries. For such reason, when we crossed the threshold, the silence of its patios inevitably transported us to another atmosphere.
The building itself is a real architectural jewel from the colonial period, with simple lines typical of the viceroyalty. Its two stories maintain parts that date back to the year 1717, but it mostly corresponds to the great repairs done between 1789 and 1807.
In the early XX century, it had been sold in a public auction and its main room located in the northwestern angle was lost in order to build a private house. But in 1936, the cunning intervention of National Senator Dr. Carlos Serrey, Esq. allowed it to be recovered and declared National Historical Monument in 1937.
Things from Old Times
We began to go through the rooms that rescue the pre-Inca times through the days of Independence. In the former, the vestiges of native cultures are symbolized in objects of daily use which also show the ways of living and thinking of the first settlers of the area.
One of the most precious pieces of the museum is El suplicante (the beggar), which was stolen in 2003. Today, there is only a picture left with the references of this idol made of stone from the early pre-Hispanic period.
Ornaments, necklaces, funeral urns and weapons from the period of Inca domination complete a collection arranged in cultural and chronological order, which portrays the organization of Northern societies prior to the Conquest.
On the top floor, spaces are dedicated to colonial times. The Sala Capitular shows the chained armchairs with a strong Portuguese-Brazilian influence from the mid XVIII century.
A pulpit that used to belong to the Compañía de Jesús and a magnificent oil painting by the Alto Peruvian artist Melchor Pérez de Olguín outstand among the significant collection of sacred art. Said painting portrays Saint Peter of Alcántara and it was painted during the first decade of the XVIII century.
The museum also has an excellent numismatic collection, sign of the economic practices of the viceroyalty.
The General Güemes room, in honor to the northern leader, shows a formal hat, the writing materials used in his campaigns and the plaque that first appeared on his gravestone before his body was transferred to the burial place called Glorias del Norte (Great figures from the North), in the Cathedral of Salta.
Other spaces that show the progress of the city and its architecture are next in the circuit, to end in the carriages patio where carriages and stagecoaches from the viceroyalty days and the early XX century are displayed.
We retraced our steps down the red quebracho wood stairs and went out to the patio where all the Independence rooms meet. Among the things that can be appreciated there, Belgrano’s vest and the Spanish flag used in the battle of Pasco, taken by General San Martín, witnesses of the fights for national liberation outstand.
We returned to the central patio thinking of those times that conceived the history of our country. The silence and quietness of the environment continued to carry the stamps of memory.
Opening hours: From Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9.30am to 1.30pm and from 3.30pm to 8.30pm. Saturdays from 4.30pm to 8.30pm.
Tour type: Museum
Bear in mind:
General guided visits: 11am, 12.30pm, 5pm and 7pm. For school kids groups: 10am and 4pm.