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San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca

San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca is where the Original Peoples meet the Spanish conquerors. It was named for Saint Ferdinand and the word Catamarca, which in Aymara means “little village” and in Quechua “mountainside fortress.” This meeting of worlds is witnessed in Catamarca’s crafts, cuisine and museums. This city is the capital of Catamarca Province, in the southwest corner of Argentina’s Andean Northwest.

Mountains tightly embrace Catamarca’s valley. To the east is the Ancasti (Eagle Nests) range and to the west, the Ambato (Frog). In summer, the valley is warmer than the surrounding countryside. But in summer, it becomes a virtual oven, provoking Catamarqueños to escape for the weekends to higher villages.

Indigenous peoples lived in the Catamarca and surrounding valleys for over 10,000 years. Their pottery and other items are displayed at Museo Arqueológico Adán Quiroga, considered to be one of the country’s best archaeology collections (Sarmiento 450, Tel: 43-7413, E-mail: Entry: Adults $1.75, retirees $0.80, children to 12 years old free; free on Tuesday). Pueblo Perdido de la Quebrada is just one of hundreds of such ruins in the region.

The city was founded in 1683. The casco histĂłrico (historic center) surrounds Plaza 25 de Mayo. On the east side of this terraced square is the Catedral Basilica, a melon-colored temple with blue-tiled bell towers. The inside has a broad nave flanked by side and chapel aisles. Off the south courtyard is the entrance to the camarĂ­n where the Virgen Morena del Valle receives her pilgrims. The stairwells and chapel are covered with thousands of devotos and thank-you plaques (RepĂşblica and Sarmiento. Entry: by donation). This is the original statue the indigenous venerated decades before the Spaniards arrived. The place where she was originally found, the Gruta de la Virgen del Valle, is seven 7 kilometers (4.4 mi) north of the city (Ruta Provincial 108, Km 7, Tel: 1522-7776). The Virgen Morena is the patron saint of tourism.

In the mid-19th century, Catamarca’s Centro Histórico experienced a tremendous facelift at the hands of architect Lauis Caravati. Adopting an Italianate style, he designed the Cathedral, Casa de Gobierno (Sarmiento, Plaza 25 de Mayo), Casa Galíndez-Poder Judicial (República 436), Paseo La Alameda and a half-dozen other public structures.

Visitors may see the merging of indigenous and Spanish cultures in the city’s museums and markets. Traditional customs may be learned about at the Museo Folklórico (Av Virgen del Valle and San Martín, Plaza La Alameda, Tel: 43-7564. Entry: free). Modern crafts are sold at the Mercado Artesanal and rugs created at the adjoining Fábrica de Alfombras. The Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes has a permanent collection of visual arts and special exhibits (San Martín 316, Tel: 43-7562). Museo Histórico teaches the province’s history (Chacabuco 435, Tel: 43-7562. Entry: free).

The Valle de Catamarca north of the capital is studded with small villages with interesting churches. Also in this direction are Catamarqueños favorite summer get-aways. Dique Las Pirquitas is famous for its fishing and boating. El Rodeo is not only a raucous summer resort, but also presents some fantastic opportunities for hiking and climbing.

(Altitude: 543 meters / 1,782 ft, Population: 141,260, Phone Code: 03833)


Other places nearby San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca: Yavi, Up To Paso San Francisco, Santa Rosa de Tastil, Tucumán, Salta, Santiago Del Estero , Antofagasta De La Sierra , Humahuaca , San Antonio de los Cobres and Tafí Del Valle .

By Lorraine Caputo

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

14 Oct 2010

Things to do in San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca

Mercado Artesanal

141951Craftspeople from all over Catamarca meet at the capital’s Mercado Artesanal. On display are their ceramics, woodcarving and rhodocrosite jewelry, as well as the famous ponchos and other weavings. ...
San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca, Argentina

Pueblo Perdido De La Quebrada

141953Once upon a time, from the 3rd to 5th century AD, about 300 Aguada indigenous lived atop a mesa at the east end of Quebrada de Tala. Only the stone bases of their homes and corrals yet exist, amid ...
San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca, Argentina

Valle De Catamarca

In the picturesque valley north of Catamarca city are small villages with quaint churches. San Isidro, seven kilometers (4.5 mi) east on Ruta Nacional 38, was founded in 1668. On one side of the ...
Other Activity
San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca, Argentina

Dique Las Pirquitas

A few kilometers from Las Pirquitas village is Dique Las Pirquitas, a 276-hectare (682-ac) artificial lake. The dam was built in the 1960s, using indigenous techniques of stone and earth. In summer, ...
San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca, Argentina


El Rodeo is Catamarca’s favorite weekend retreat. In summer, when the city is sweating, this village’s higher altitude (1,365 m / 4,478 ft) provides a cool and lushly green escape. Its small, ...
Other Activity
San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca, Argentina

Hiking Around El Rodeo

For many Catamarqueños, El Rodeo is a place to party down on hot summer weekends. But that’s not all this town offers. The surrounding Sierras de Ambato, cross-hatched by creeks, provide for ...
San Fernando Del Valle De Catamarca, Argentina
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