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San Juan, Argentina


San Juan is the capital city of the Argentine province of San Juan in the Cuyo region, located in the Tulum Valley, west of the San Juan River, at above mean sea level, with a population of around 112,000 as per the .

It is a modern city with wide streets and well drawn avenues with wide sidewalks and vegetation of different species of trees irrigated by canals, from which it derives its nickname oasis town.

It has an important accommodation infrastructure and transportation. It highlights modern buildings and the surroundings, the reservoir and Ullum dam, spas, museums, large plantations of vines, and various types of agriculture, with wine being the most important.

History and architecture

Before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores, the Huarpe Indians inhabited this area.

San Juan de la Frontera was founded on June 13, 1562 by Juan Jufre at the shore of the San Juan River. In 1593 flooding damaged the town, for which reason its setting was moved 2.5 km South to its current location.

San Juan was a sleepy, provincial town during colonial times (1562-1810) and took practically no part in the internal wars that devastated Argentina in its so-called Organizational Period (1820-1860.) Two of the most prominent members of the 1816 Congress of Tucuman which declared Argentina's independence from Spain, however, came from San Juan: Narciso Fernandez de Laprida, who was president of the congress, and San Juan's bishop Friar Justo Santa Maria de Oro, a Dominican friar and an eloquent speaker whose persuasive oratory was largely responsible for Argentina becoming a republic and not a monarchy like Brazil.

Probably the most important and famous city son was Fray Justo's nephew, and president of Argentina between 1868and 1874, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, whose birthplace was turned into a National Historical Monument in 1910, during the administration of president Roque Saenz Pena.

On January 15, 1944, a powerful earthquake devastated the city, killing around 10,000 people and leaving half of the provincial population homeless. Another quake, 7.4 in the Richter magnitude scale, struck 80 km northeast of the city on November 23, 1977, causing considerable damage and killing 65 people around the province.

After the disaster of 1944, the city was reconstructed on concentric boulevards, with straight, well lit, tree-lined avenues and modern housing. It has mostly lost its colonial aspect, but retains an open, sunny Mediterranean look. San Juan possesses one of the most modern and active concert halls in Argentina, as well as many leafy parks and squares, including Parque de Mayo with its vast artificial lake.

The old cathedral, an 18th century Jesuit style building, was destroyed in the 1944 earthquake, but has been replaced by a modern-Tuscan-romanesque building with a campanile. San Juan is the seat of a Roman Catholic metropolitan Archbishop and a Catholic University.

Geography and climate

The city of San Juan is located in a fertile valley within a rocky mountainous area. Winter temperatures are generally mild, averaging between 1 C and 16 C, but can drop below -8 C. Summers are hot and very dry, with average temperatures between 19 C and 35 C, and a record maximum of 44 C.

Since very little rain falls in the region, the San Juan River has been dammed to provide a regular source of water to the city. The resulting reservoir is located in Ullum, and is known as the Quebrada de Ullum Dam. The dam also provides electrical power to the region.

Sixty-five percent of the surrounding area's agricultural production is related to wine production.

Urban aspect

The city of San Juan completely changed its appearance from a colonial one to one of the most modern in the country after the earthquake of 1944, with well-drawn and wide paved streets, ample paths with mosaics, and forests of bananas, moreras and paradises irrigated by channels (small drains).

The city is located within the Capital District, which was planned in the form of a checkerboard anchored by Las Heras Avenue (from North to South), 25 de Mayo Av. (East to West), 9 de Julio Av. (east to west) and Guillermo Rawson Avenue (north to south). These four avenues form a perfect rectangle of 16 blocks in width (going from east to west and vice versa -horizontally-) by 10 blocks long . This center of this rectangle is a square of 7 blocks in length by 6 blocks wide, delimited by Leandro N. Alem, Cordoba, Libertador San Martin and Rioja Avenues. This area is the city's downtown and, as such, is the most densely populated and concentrates most of the city's commercial, financial and institutional activities.

The most important perpendicular avenues are Mitre (known for its cinemas and cyber cafes), Jose Ignacio de la Roza (built after the 1944 earthquake), commercial Santa Fe Avenue, Rivadavia street (the easternmost two blocks of which have been pedestrianized), and San Martin Avenue (which leads to most access routes towards Greater San Juan). The more important parallel arteries are Mendoza Avenue (leading to Villa Krause), General Mariano Acha Av. and Rioja Avenue.

Some of the city's most important landmarks are:

Cathedral

Designed by architect Daniel Ramos Correa, the cathedral was inaugurated on December 16, 1979. The bell tower is a steeple of 51 meters (170 feet) in height, and features a British clock and a German carillon which sounds every 15 minutes. The interior is accessed through a bronze vestibule crafted Faenza, Italy with bas-reliefs of Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Louis of France, the Apostle Santiago, Saint Anne and several shields and emblems. In the basement of the church is the crypt, the pantheon of the bishops and the chapel of Friar Justo Santa Maria de Oro.

25th of May Park

This is the city's principal urban park, providing a green space with a colorful variety of flora. The park also features 19th century-era monuments to President Domingo Sarmiento and Friar Justo Santa Maria de Oro. The central fountain, dating from 1871, was remodeled on several occasions.

Aberastain Park

Named for a former Governor, the park features a monument to its namesake (Antonio Aberastain).

Peatonal Tucuman and Rivadavia

The city's most important, pedestrianized streets, their well-landscaped setting and variety of retail outlets make them favorites among both locals and tourists.

May Park

Named to commemorate the May Revolution of 1810, the park a children's section, an artificial lake with an island, fish and aquatic birds, a velodrome, and numerous sculptures and monuments to General Jose de San Martin, Governor Federico Cantoni, and to sports.

Transport

The city enjoys a modern transport infrastructure and is accessible via a ring road, and the South Access Freeway, among others. The city's outward growth has made a second ring road necessary, and the project is under construction. The motorway will reduce communting times from Greater San Juan to downtown, and will also facilitate large freight truck traffic (diverting it from the city proper). It also calls for a complementary project for another motorway called South Corridor, connecting downtown San Juan with Rawson and other southern suburbs.

The urban public transport passengers from the City of San Juan consists of bus lines marked with numbers and letters (19 or 26A), linking the city centre with the various neighbourhoods and the rest of the Great San Juan. In May 2008, the minimum cost of the ticket is $ 1.30. The city also has taxi service and remises.

The rapid growth of the city has necessitated new means of transportation, and a feasibility study was recently commissioned on the development of a trolley service between downtown and Greater San Juan. The propode routes would unite Chimbas-San Juan (Center)-Villa Krause and Rivadavia-San Juan (Center)-Santa Lucia, as well as one circulating downtown.

Long distance public transport is provided by the modern Bus Terminal, with more than 6,000 sq metres of area in platforms. The terminal also includes administration offices, ticketing, information, a police precinct, a first-aid room, telephone booths, shops, a restaurant, and other facilities.

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento Airport is located 15 kilometers from the city in 9 de Julio Department, more precisely in the village of Las Chacritas. It is located at coordinates [display in an interactive map] 31 34'18 .70 "S, 68 25'23 .00" O. IATA Code: UAQ. This airport serves routes from San Juan to Buenos Aires.

The city is situated on National Route 40, connecting it with Mendoza to the south and La Rioja to the north; National Route 20 connects San Juan to San Luis . Distances to other important cities are as follows: Cordoba , Catamarca and Buenos Aires .

Tourism

Tourism to San Juan is centered around wine production and degustation as well as the extraordinary rock formations in places like the Ischigualasto National Park (which includes the Valle de la Luna), 330 km north of the city, and the Quebrada de Ullum Dam .

An integral attraction to the province is its large Triassic period fossil record, believed to be one of the largest in the world. Another curiosity is the Difunta Correa sanctuary, 64 km kilometres away from San Juan, on route 141.

There is also the celebrated Mariano Gambier Archeology museum at La Laja, Albardon county, some 25 km from the center of the city. It concerns itself with the many cultures that inhabited San Juan from Pre-History till the arrival of the Spaniards in 1560. It has a priceless collection of Indian artifacts, cave paintings and other elements of agriculture and life in the Tulum valley from the last 8500 years.

Museums

Casa Domingo Faustino Sarmiento is located at the intersection of Libertador General San Martin Avenue and Sarmiento street. Made a National Historic Monument in 1910, this was the first site so designated in Argentina. The local educator and President of the Republic from 1868 to 1874, Domingo Sarmiento, was born here in 1811 and raised here, as well. The modest, though comfortable 9 room house features original relics, furniture, commemorative photographs, medals, periodicals and books written by Sarmiento and belonging to his original collections. In the central patio of the house one can find a sprout of the famous fig tree and a replica of the historical loom of Dona Paula, his mother, whom Sarmiento mentions in his book Recuerdos de Provincia (Provincial Memories).

Franklin Rawson Museum of Fine Arts/Agustin Gnecco Historical Provincial Museum is located at the intersection of General Paz Street and Rawson Avenue. There, one finds a valuable patrimony of paintings and sculptures, engravings and drawings of the greatest national masters. The Gnecco Museum features elements related to fashion in the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries, Creole silverwork, as well as historic numismatics and philately collections.

Amid Read Museum/Carlos Gardel House of Tango . This museum is located on General Mariano Acha Street between Brazil and Manuel Belgrano Streets. It provides displays and videos outlining the developent of Argentine Tango, and its evolution in the 20th century. Conferences, discussions, and violin and bandoneon classes are among the activities hosted here.

Natural Sciences Museum . This facility, housed in a former railway station is known for its dinosaur fossil collections, found mainly in the nearby Ischigualasto Valley.

External links

Pagina Oficial de la Provincia de San Juan (Spanish)

Municipality of San Juan - Official website.

Earthquakes in San Juan

San Juan Tourist Guide (English - Spanish - German)

San Juan Events Guide (Spanish)

City info

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article San Juan, Argentina


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