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Viedma and Carmen de Patagones

Sometimes when a seed is planted, the result turns out completely different than expected with the passing centuries. Such is the case of Viedma and Carmen de Patagones, on either bank of the RĂ­o Negro. For several centuries these twin cities have shared their lives, with Patagones being the stronger sibling. Since the 20th century, though, Viedma has come into its own and is now an important, modern city. Patagones has faded into a tranquil village dotted with remnants of the past.

On April 22, 1779, Don Francisco de Viedma y Narváez founded Nuestra Señora del Carmen, one of the five new-model settlements ordered by King Carlos III to be built in the Patagonia. Viedma chose the south shore of the Río Negro for Nuestra Señora del Carmen, but within months, a flood washed it away. The settlement was moved to the higher north bank. It was the only one of the five to survive. Plazoleta del Fundador marks the original site (Av F de Viedma and 7 de Marzo, Viedma).

Over the next century, Carmen de Patagones was Patagonia’s only port, shipping agricultural products from inland communities to Buenos Aires. Quintas (farms) existed on the other side. Within 50 years, it had about 900 inhabitants, nearly half from Africa. Patagones played a decisive role in the Argentine-Brazilian war over possession of Uruguay (1825-1828). Because Buenos Aires was blockaded, Patagones was the country’s principal port. On March 7, 1827, at Cerro de la Caballada, a coalition of soldiers and corsairs defeated a Brazilian flotilla that tried to take over Patagones. The town also participated in Roca’s Conquista del Desierto (1879). Thereafter, its port grew more important. French and Italian-influenced architecture replaced the colonial buildings. When San Antonio Este’s harbor opened in 1911, Patagones became less vital. Sandbars were the final blow to this town’s economic base.

On the other side of the river, Viedma was born as a separate city in 1878, first as capital of Patagonia and later of the Río Negro Territory (1884) and Río Negro Province (1957). Its manzana histórica is around Plaza Alsina, a pleasant square shaded by conifers, palms and magnolia trees. On the south side is Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Merced, a brick church with twin bell towers. Adjoining the church is the old Salesian school and an octagonal clock tower, which are now home to Centro Histórico Cultural Salesiano. These were the only buildings to survive the devastating 1899 flood. Viedma has the distinction of having two beatos, or saints-in-the-making: Ceferino Namuncurá, a Mapuche who wanted to be a missionary among his own people, and Artémides Zatti, a doctor who dedicated to healing the city’s poorest denizens.

Today, Carmen de Patagones is a quaint village. Lemon trees overhang garden walls. Its irregularly shaped downtown, centered around Plaza 7 de Marzo, is a national historic monument. On one side is Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen, built within the ruins of the old fortress. Within the church are the flags captured from Brazilian forces on that fateful March 7, the mausoleum of Comandante Luis Piedra Buena and a museum. Just downhill are the Cuevas de los Maragatas, the caves where the first colonists lived. Other buildings from Patagones’ early decades are Rancho Rial and Casa de Carlota.

The cities are connected by frequent launches and two bridges. They continue to share their lives, celebrating their mutual history and culture. Their lives are dominated by the Río Negro, which in Mapudungun is called Kurrú Leuvú. This is Patagonia’s largest river in Patagonia. One tributary springs from Nahuel Huapi Lake near Bariloche. The willow and aspen-lined banks have balnearios where locals relax, swim and fish on warm summer days. Ducks and black-necked swans swim amid the yachts, canoes and kayaks exploring the shores and islands. Every year, the world’s longest regatta arrives, covering 500 kilometers (311 mi) from Neuquén to Viedma. The two towns are part of the Comarca Viedma-Patagones, covering southern Buenos Aires and northern Río Negro Proivinces and including backpackers’ beach resort El Cóndor and fishing paradise Bahía San Blas.


(Carmen de Patagones—Altitude: 15 m / 49 ft, Population: 18,189, Phone Code: 02920)
(Viedma—Altitude: 12 m / 39 ft, Population: 47,437, Phone Code: 02920)

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Other places nearby Viedma and Carmen de Patagones : Península Valdés, Puerto San Julián , San Antonio Oeste , Monumento Natural Bosques Petrificados, Río Gallegos, Caleta Olivia , Piedra Buena , Reserva Natural Ría Deseado, Puerto Deseado and Dolavon.







11 Oct 2010

Things to do in Viedma and Carmen de Patagones

Gobernador Eugenio Tello Museum

Originally built in 1910 as Viedma\'s official municipal building, the Gobernador Eugenio Tello Museum also serves as a library, home to the Provincial Historical Archives, the richest and most ...
Museum
Viedma and Carmen de Patagones , Argentina

Centro HistĂłrico Cultural Salesiano

The old Salesian school continues its teaching mission today as Centro HistĂłrico Cultural Salesiano, with three museums. Museo TecnolĂłgico del Agua y Suelo is all about water, and the ...
Museum
Viedma and Carmen de Patagones , Argentina

CervecerĂ­a Artesanal GĂĽlmen

Gülmen, Viedma’s microbrewery, invites travelers to come visit the shop. They can check out how it makes its wonderful selection of frothy drinks. Gülmen creates a Dorada Patagónica (a malty, ...
Other Activity
Viedma and Carmen de Patagones , Argentina

Museo HistĂłrica Regional Emma Nozzi

In the original Banco de la Provincia building is Museo HistĂłrica Regional Emma Nozzi, covering the entire history of Patagones and Viedma from its founding to modern-day. Dioramas illustrate ...
Museum
Viedma and Carmen de Patagones , Argentina
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