A Tour around the City of Viedma

Viedma is a modern city where every detail deserves attention. Almost the site for the new capital city of the Argentine Republic in the 1980s, it features vestiges of those times.

History goes that on April 22, 1779 on the southern coast of the Río Negro (Black River), Francisco Viedma and Narvaez built a small fortress under the name of Fuerte Del Carmen(Del Carmen’s Fortress), for the purpose of settling the area, which at those times was one of the southernmost sites in the new continent conquered by Spaniards.

However, shortly after the construction of the fortress, a great flood forced the settlers to move to higher lands which finally were divided into two neighborhoods: “Fuerte del Carmen” to the north and “Mercedes de Patagones” to the south.

Afterwards, Viedma became the name for the second neighborhood in honor to its founder and gave origin to a new city with a lifestyle completely different from the one across the river. Today, Viedma belongs to the Province of Río Negro whereas Carmen de Patagones (formerly known as Fuerte del Carmen) lies inside the Province of Buenos Aires.

The ideal tour is wandering around the city. One of the not-to-miss spots is the oldest square in town, known as Alsina Square, now landscaped with exotic species and declared a national historic venue.

Another attraction in Viedma is the historic block, which was also declared a National Historic Monument, where visitors can appreciate the cathedral “Our Lady of Mercy”, built in 1912, together with the building which was once the seat of the Viedma’s bishopric, former Saint Francis de Sales school, the Museum of Water and Soil and the Salesian Museum.

A few steps away from such spot, Asociación Amigos de lo Nuestro (Association of Friends of Our Culture), whose building was once the first school in the Patagonia, may be found. This building also survived the great flood in 1899.

The capital city of the Province of Río Negro, Viedma, shelters a great number of buildings of well-known significance, mainly, the House of Government of the Province of Río Negro, the Provincial Legislative Branch building, the historic Town Hall, the Governor’s residence and the building where Banco de la Nación Argentina operates, among others.

Another eye-catching building is the current Ministry of Economic Affairs, built in 1948 with the purpose of opening a hotel, which now houses the offices of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Río Negro.

Already on the river, tourists who visit this city for the first time will be captivated by two bridges: the road bridge named Basilio Villarino, inaugurated in 1981, and the railway bridge, whose iron structure came from Hamburg in 1931 and allowed steamships to pass due to its technical conditions.

The Municipal Culture Center, built between 1968 and 1970, is currently one of the venues where cultural activities are developed by local artists and those coming from other places in the country.

San Martín Square, created after the great flood, the Founder’s Small Square, built on the spot where Francisco de Viedma disembarked, and the Pucará Fountain, homage to Malvinas heroes as well as the planes manufactured in Argentina and used to defend our territory, are some of the outdoor sites this beautiful city offers.

Other attractions are the Stella Maris Chapel, inaugurated on January 23, 1960, the monument erected in honor to Ceferino Namuncurá and the lighthouse at Barra de Río Negro, the first one in the Patagonia and the oldest among those still in service.

The City of Viedma offers everything for visitors to enjoy. If the idea of moving the capital had been successful, this city would have undoubtedly been the capital of Argentina.

Autor Pablo Etchevers

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