La Rioja



Founded in 1591, La Rioja, Argentina, has beautiful colonial architecture (much of it rebuilt after an 1894 earthquake) and an awe-inspiring mountain in the background (La Mexicana, which rises 20,250 ft/6,175 m). Situated 610 mi/980 km northwest of Buenos Aires, it is the main town of Argentina's second-largest wine producing region. The pace is slow, partly due to the high temperatures in summer.

Notable examples of early Spanish buildings are the convents of Santo Domingo and San Francisco. The former is the oldest in Argentina and was constructed by Dominican monks in 1623. The San Francisco convent, meanwhile, sports a neo-Gothic architectural style.
The neo-classical San Nicolas de Bari cathedral and Folklore Museum are also worth a visit.

The other side of La Rioja's heritage can be seen at the Museo Inca Huasi, which houses more than 12,000 Indian artifacts, ceramics and weavings. La Rioja is noted for its style of pottery—see or buy good examples at the Mercado Artesanal. Day trips can be taken to Santa Teresita Hot Springs and to Talampaya, a provincial park with a deep canyon and many rock formations.

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