Greatest Historic Latin America CitiesNovember 19, 2018
- 1 1. Buenos Aires
- 2 3. Montevideo (Uruguay)
- 3 6. Lima (Peru)
- 4 7. Quido (Equador)
- 5 9.Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
- 6 12. Guanajuato (México)
- 7 14.Ciudad de Panamá
- 8 16. Comayagua (Honduras)
- 9 18.San Juan of Puerto Rico.
1. Buenos Aires
A section of the history of the peoples of Latin America, from the time of the Spanish conquest until today, revives in some cities through indelible marks that remain almost unchanged despite the time elapsed.
This heritage -an essential part of local identity-, in which the Spanish or Portuguese influence merges with the legacy of the original cultures, it awakens more and more the interest of tourists from all over the world. Here they go 18 examples of colonial neighborhoods that attract in the region.
The old constructions that rise from the Apple of Lights – between the streets of Peru, Alsina, Moreno and Bolívar, one block from Plaza de Mayo– they reveal the activity that the Jesuit priests developed on the coast of the Río de la Plata in 1608. They built a church, the Colegio de San Ignacio, viceroyal houses and tunnels.
In 1821, this area was baptized “Manzana de las luces” by the newspaper “El Argos”, due to the great diversity of educational and cultural institutions it housed. Here too, from 1822 until the end of the nineteenth century, the Chamber of Representatives and the Presidency of the Legislature of Buenos Aires functioned.
2. Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay)
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay (photo by Natacha Pisarenko / AP).
Restored in 1972, the historic district of Cologne reflects both the times when the Banda Oriental was part of the Portuguese Crown and the time of Spanish rule. From the wall of the old fort you can appreciate the sandy beaches, the River Plate and the architectural complex, where the lighthouse -constructed in 1855 on the foundations of the San Francisco Xavier convent-, the Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament, the Portón de Campo and the bridge that crosses the moat. The Calle de los Suspiros takes off from the Plaza Mayor, between houses with adobe walls.
3. Montevideo (Uruguay)
The Puerta de la Ciudadela, in the Plaza Independencia in Montevideo, Uruguay (photo by Getty Images).
The streets of the Old City can be accessed from the port of Montevideo -the most direct access to enjoy a chivito or a drink of half and half in the Marcado del Puerto, inaugurated in 1868- or through the Puerta de la Ciudadela, which takes off from Plaza Independencia and marks the course on the pedestrian street Sarandí to Plaza Zabala and its reminiscences of the European belle epoque of the late nineteenth century. From the city-fort San Felipe and Santiago de Montevideo, erected by the Spanish conquistadors in 1741, there are remains of the ramparts along Bartolomé Miter Street, the port rambla and the South promenade.
In a better state, some buildings from the colonial era are conserved, such as the Cathedral, the Mother Church and the seat of the Cabildo and Reales Cárceles. The pedestrian Bacacay and Sarandi concentrate clothing stores, decoration, bookstores, jewelry stores and bars. Nor should we ignore the antiques fair that is installed on Saturdays in the Plaza Matriz or a guided tour of the Solís Theater, an architectural and cultural relic inaugurated in 1856.
4. Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Ladder Selaron, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (photo by Sebastián Alonso).
With the arrival of the Portuguese Court in Rio de Janeiro, this city reached its greatest growth and architectural splendor. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal between 1807 and 1822 and, from then until 1960, the capital of the Brazilian Empire. It houses centennial public buildings -like the Tiradentes Palace, former seat of the Congress-, the National Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Municipal Theater (of 1909), churches and palatial houses.
However, the main landmark of the historic center is the Imperial Palace. This is also the first sector of Rio that populated the first Portuguese settlers, who landed in 1565. You can reach this area through the avenues Mem de Sá and Río Branco or the streets Largo de Lapa and Primero de Marzo and start the walk in plaza XV de Noviembre, Plaza Cinelandia or Chafariz da Pirámide, a stone fountain built in 1779 to supply fresh water to ships moored in the port.
5. Salvador de Bahia (Brazil)
The Pelourinho neighborhood, in Salvador de Bahía, Brazil.
One of the greatest expressions of Afro-Brazilian culture beats in this neighborhood of stone alleys and Pelourinho colored mansions, where rituals with candles, incense and images of orixás (gods of the candomblé African ritual) are common.
The four elevators overlooking the sea of the Lacerda Elevator connect the Upper City with the Lower part and allow access to the Mercado Modelo, the most suitable place to choose souvenirs and pieces of Bahia handicrafts. The best feijoadas (traditional dish based on beans and pork) are served in the restaurant Alaíde do Feijao.
6. Lima (Peru)
Historic Center of Lima, Peru.
The Historic Center of the capital of Peru It gathers hundred-year-old squares, colonial mansions, wooden balconies and more than 600 monuments. The ideal starting point for the walking tour is the Plaza San Martín, with a monument to the Liberator erected in the exact center and Republican style buildings around.
The hotel Bolívar, the Teatro Colón and the Club Nacional stand out. From here to the Plaza Mayor, the 900-meter Jirón de la Unión promenade crosses farms with the most attractive wooden balconies and their delicate ironwork. Other interesting points to consider are the Basilica de la Merced and the Casa de Aliaga.
In the old quarter of the capital of Ecuador, there is a Jesuit church, the Arco de la Reina, the Atahualpa theater, the street with the Galapagos staircase, the Vargas passage (a source of inspiration for artists, bohemians and lovers, popularly known as La Guaragua). , the temples of the Street of the Seven Crosses, the Carondelet Palace (seat of the National Government) and the convent of San Francisco, settled on remains of Inca walls since 1533.
7. Quido (Equador)
Celebration of the 40th anniversary of Quito (Ecuador) as Historical Heritage of Humanity, in August 2018.
In August, 18 spaces were artistically intervened for the Fiesta de la Luz 2018, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the recognition of the historic center of Quito as a “Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by Unesco.
8. Cartagena de Indias (Colombia)
The glances are lost in the endless sequence of centuries-old residences of one and two floors, with wooden doors, windows decorated with bars and wooden balconies overflowing with flowers. In the interior, the patios with gardens refer to the Arab, Roman and Greek designs inherited in Spain by the towns of Andalusia and Extremadura.
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
The walled city also encloses the Plaza de los Coches, the Bodegón de la Candelaria, the church and convent of the San Pedro Claver Jesuit order, the Plaza de la Aduana and the houses of the Marquises Domingo de Miranda and Valdehoyos.
9.Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
The Colonial Zone of the Dominican capital -considered the first city of the “New World” by its founder Bartolomé Colón, in 1496- encompasses a grid of 16 cobbled streets. There, the first Cathedral of America (built in 1546), the Fortress, the House of Bastides, the Palace of the Captains, the Church of the Dominicans -structure of the continent’s first university-, the Casa de las Monedas el Palacio of Borgella and the House of Tostado. A few steps from here you can visit the Botanical Garden and the Malecón, which offers a magnificent open view of the Caribbean Sea.
10. Antigua Guatemala
At 45 km from the city of Guatemala, Antigua preserves part of the first foundation of the capital of the Central American country. It arose in 1543 and in 1773 it was destroyed by an earthquake.
Antigua Guatemala (photo by José Méndez / EFE).
A moving way to get to know the must-see sites of Antigua (such as the Palace of the General Captains, the Sirens’ Fountain of the Plaza Mayor and the Town Hall) and its people is through the popular procession that every July 25 continues to the Major Mass in the Cathedral and Parish of San José.
11. Old Havana (Cuba)
The oldest sector of the capital of Cuba congregates tourists from the five continents, eager to discover a striking mixture of vintage cars, salsa and rumba melodies that descend from the neighborhood’s balconies, colonial architecture, cultural centers and typical flavors offered in palates (dining rooms for tourists in private homes). Baroque and art deco are just some of the architectural styles that exhibit more than a thousand historic buildings in Old Havana, distributed around four main squares.
Old Havana, Cuba.
The Cathedral, the Marqués de Arcos Palace, the Counts of Casa Bayona, the Marqués de Aguas Claras, the Segundo Cabo and the Count of Lombillo, the museums with free entrance of Mercaderes Street and the San Francisco Church and Convent of Assisi By the Malecon overlooking the Caribbean Sea you get to the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, from where you can see two testimonies of the Spanish imperial period, built in the sixteenth century: the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña and the lighthouse and Castillo de los Tres Kings of the Morro.
Echoes of the great history and the independence struggle of the Mexican people are safeguarded in this city of alleys, tunnels and strong Cervantes tradition: the Cervantino International Festival is held here every year.
The night walk is an unforgettable experience if you choose to join the alleyways, along with students who drive the walk to the Callejón del Beso singing and telling legends and stories. There is also much to see and admire during the day. For example, the Union Garden – a stage for artists and street performers, surrounded by restaurants, bars, hotels and the Juarez theater -, the Casa Diego Rivera, the Don Quijote, Regional and Mummies, the Funicular and Mirador del Pípila museums, the Temple of San Cayetano and the remains of the Mina de la Valenciana, from the 16th century.
13. Potosí (Bolivia)
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Villa Imperial del Potosí, in southern Bolivia, flourished in the shadow of Cerro Rico (“Sumaj Orko” in Quechua), the largest silver mine in the world.
Church of San Lorenzo in Potosí, Bolivia (photo by Getty Images).
That time of splendor, when with 160 thousand inhabitants Potosí was one of the largest and richest cities in the world, revives in the colonial building of the Casa de la Moneda -transformed in museum-, the Mining Market, the Sacred and Life Museum Religious of Santa Teresa, the Historical Mining Museum Diego Huallpa and the circuit of seven viewpoints of the urban area and the emblematic hill.
Balboa Avenue offers one of the best perspectives to start observing the colorful buildings of Casco Viejo, also known as San Felipe, in the midst of glass skyscrapers. After decades of neglect, the colonial zone of the Panamanian capital was restored and today it brings together the best bars and restaurants in the city, as well as museums -like the Panama Canal Museum-, historic houses, the church of San José and its altar of gold and art rooms.
City of Panama.
Through the cobbled streets you can hear the cries of the sellers of bun (a typical Panamanian meal based on corn) and appreciate the colorful crafts of the original Kuna settlers, who offer their molas in the Paseo de las Bóvedas. A mixture of French, Spanish and American architecture, the Plaza Mayor (where the Independence of Panama was declared in 1903) is the first step of a walk through the Convent of the Society of Jesus, the squares Francia and Santa Ana, the Arco Chato and the Presidential Palace, in the Palacio de las Garzas.
15. La Guaira (Venezuela)
At the foot of the Colorado and Caído hills, the port of La Guaira emerged in the sixteenth century as a key bastion in the trade between America and Europe. Later, its forts and castles were defensive bases in the framework of the independence struggles.
At the beginning of the 20th century, British, Spanish and French sailors, disembarking from cargo ships, frequented the bars and brothels of La Guaira. Along the streets of El Comercio and Bolivar colonial and republican houses, contemporary buildings and art deco modernist buildings, erected in the 30s and 40s. The Historical Center covers 14 blocks, surrounded by the ruins of Caracas Castle, the Osorio river, the Bolívar district and the Soublette avenue.
16. Comayagua (Honduras)
Good part of the testimonies of the original Villa de la Concepción de Comayagua and the later Santa María de la Nueva Valladolid are treasured in the Museum of Colonial Religious Art, about 50 meters from the Cathedral.
This incipient town, founded in 1537 by order of the King of Spain Carlos I, became the capital of the Province of Honduras during the colonial era. Other unmissable sites during a visit to this city are the Regional Museum of Comayagua, the church of the Immaculate Conception, which preserves altarpieces bathed in gold and a clock of 1100, one of the oldest in the continent.
17. La Serena (Chile)
In the Typical Zone of La Serena -the heart of the Elqui Valley, world famous for its pisco production- there are still some constructions that refer to the founding period (mid-sixteenth century), such as the traditional colonial architecture supported by mud and straw and religious temples in stone.
But there are also works carried out by English and North American carpenters arrived in Chile in the second half of the 19th century, attracted by mining exploitation and trade. The decorative carpentry shines on antetechos, pilasters on the facade and ceilings covered with larch tiles. The tour through the historic center of La Serena also shows the neocolonial style applied to the urban landscape in the 1940s, in the buildings of the Municipality and Courts, the Central Bank, the Railway Station and the Archbishop’s Palace.
Cobblestone streets rise and fall in Old San Juan, where the colonial houses painted with strident colors, wooden balconies and pots full of flowers stand out. San Juan began to appear in 1493, with the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island.
18.San Juan of Puerto Rico.
The tour includes the Fortress of Santa Catalina -in La Fortaleza street, the oldest in the city-, the Parque de las Palomas (where a wall offers the best view of the bay of San Juan), the San José church, museums , art galleries, the plazas de Armas, San José, Dársenas and Colón, exquisite ice creams in Señor Paleta, typical dishes and tropical fruits.
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