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Few travellers venture out on Ruta Nacional north from Concordia, except those taking a direct bus to Posadas or Iguazú. The highway is dotted with small villages seldom visited by tourists. About 300 kilometers (186 mi) up the Río Uruguay from Concordia is Yapeyú, one of Argentina’s most historical cities. It was born in 1627 as Nuestra Señora de los Santos Reyes, a Jesuit mission, and was the gateway to the 30 other Jesuit-Guaraní missions in the region. Later it was the cradle of South American liberator, José de San Martín. Sacked and destroyed by the Portuguese in 1817, the town emerged from the ashes to become the quaint village it is today.

Yapeyú has quite a few things to keep visitors busy. Many of the attractions are around Plaza San Martín, the main square. On one side, in the midst of the mission ruins, is Museo Jesuítico Padre Furlong, which houses excavated artifacts and historical documents (Calle Obispo Romero, between San Lorenzo and Sargento Cabral. Entry: by donation). Next door is Iglesia San Martín de Tours, dedicated in 1899. The church has several images from the time of the Jesuits, including those of the Virgen Misionera and San Martín de Tours.

On the east side of the plaza is the Templete, a modern building that protects the remains of the San Martín family’s house (Entry: free). This was the childhood home of General José de San Martín, liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru. Two corridors are lined with commemorative plaques to the general. Next to the Templete is Centro de Referencias, situated in a Jesuit-era building. This history museum also displays crafts (Entry: free).

Five blocks south of Plaza San Martín is Museo Sanmartiano (Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Aguado and Av del Libertador. Entry: free). This museum exhibits items from Jesuit times to the present, including many items pertaining to the Liberator. Argentina’s only troop of calvary granaderos (soldiers), the Regimiento de Granaderos a Caballo, does regular shows dressed in Independence-era clothing.

Yapeyú commemorates both General San Martín’s birth (February 25) and his death (August 17). Religious holidays are Festividad de Nuestra Señora de los Santos Reyes Magos (January 6) and the feast day of patron saint San Martín de Tours (November 11). During February is Carnaval, with dancing and music.

Yapeyú is a great place to go swimming in the Río Uruguay (beware of the mantas, or sting rays) and fishing. Local ranches, like Estancia San Carlos (Tel: 03722-1563-4320, E-mail: and EstanciaYapeyú (Km 560, Ruta Nacional 14, Tel: 03772-1563-4961 / Buenos Aires: 011-4502-51-73, E-mail:, URL:, offer horseback riding, trekking, birdwatching, canoeing and other activities, as well as excursions to various destinations.

Yapeyú is the starting point for the Camino Jesuístico Guaraní. To the north are the ruins of Corrientes Province’s three other Jesuit-Guaraní reducciones. The nearest to Yapeyú is La Cruz (35 km / 22 mi), which was founded in 1629 as Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Acaraguá y Mborore. Museo Parroquial Ramón Mansilla has relics from the Jesuit mission, including columns, a solar clock, baptismal font and stone water filter (Navajas 844). The Sitio Arqueológico Jesuítico Guaraní, excavated in 2007, was a roof-tile and brick kiln in the 17th and 18th centuries. In Santo Tomé’s church is a beautiful statue of the Virgen de la Asunción de Acaraguá y Mborore.

Santo Tomé, 135 kilometers (84 mi) north of Yapeyú, was originally settled in 1632 as Santo Tomás Apóstol. Due to constant attacks by Portuguese slave traders, it was relocated to this spot on the Río Uruguay. Within the ruins is a reloj del sol (solar clock), dating from 1730, that is one of the few things that survived the 1817 fire set by invading Brazilian forces. The Museo Parroquial Ramón Mansilla displays Jesuit artifacts.

The third mission is at San Carlos, 220 kilometers (137 mi) north of Yapeyú.

(Altitude: 25 m / 82 ft, Population: 1,650, Phone Code: 03772)


Yapeyú’s tourism office, Dirección Municipal de Turismo y Cultura, is located in the city hall (municipalidad) (Matorras and Sargento Cabral). The village also has police, a bank (ATM), hospital, pharmacy, post office, and internet.


Asociación Guías de Turismo de Yapeyú (AGUIYU) (Matorras and Sargento Cabral, Tel: 49-3198, E-mail:


Camping Municipal Yapeyú (Av. Libertador and the Río Uruguay, Tel: 49-3013)

Hotel San Martín (Sargento Cabral 712, Tel: 49-3120)

Hostería ACA (Matorras and Sargento Cabral, Tel: 49-3020)

Also lodging and camping in La Cruz and Santo Tomé.


Comedor Hotel San Martin Sargento Cabral 712, Tel: 49-3120)

Restaurante El Paraíso (matorral s/n)


Other places nearby Yapeyú: Colón, Gualeguaychú , Concordia and Concepción Del Uruguay .

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

06 Jul 2010

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