Cordoba & Central Sierras
The rich history and culture of Cordoba combine perfectly with opportunities for outdoor pursuits in the Central Sierras.
Cordoba’s heritage is evident in its grid layout, fine architecture and main square, Plaza de San Martin. Colonial religious buildings are especially impressive and the large Jesuit complex, dating back to the late 16th century, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Today the city is the second-largest city in the country and remains a vibrant centre, home to Argentina’s oldest university and plenty of restaurants, bars, theatres and markets while the city’s canal and parks provide restful retreats.
As well as the Jesuit complex in Cordoba there are four Jesuit missions in the region, part of the extensive network established between the 16th and 18th centuries across Argentina and neighbouring countries. They were designed to convert native people to the Catholic religion, providing homes, work, education and security. They are evocative places to visit today in varying states of repair, some being reclaimed by the jungle.
The Central Sierras are a mountain range (older and lower than the Andes) with varied terrain and a temperate climate which makes them popular as a recreational destination. Along with the pampas and Patagonia, this is gaucho territory, especially in the Sierras Chicas, the easternmost part of the sierras which offer mainly wood and scrub-covered rolling hills plus some higher elevations if you like a hiking challenge. There are many working farms and ranches (estancias) where you can visit to get a feel for rural life and witness the equestrian skills of the gauchos and even get involved or head off on horseback.
- Colonial architecture: Cordoba has a great many colonial gems including the churches, convents and the cathedral with its ornate frescoes and gilding.
- La Canada: This quiet 7km-long canal is a lovely spot for a gentle stroll away from the hustle and bustle of Cordoba's city centre. It is lined with trees and the nearby shops, restaurants and bars offer recreation.
- Jesuit missions: If the Jesuit complex in Cordoba has whetted your appetite you will want to see some of the other missions, or ‘reductions’ in the area, that together make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provide a fascinating glimpse into a specific era of Argentina’s history.
- Punilla Valley: With stunning alpine scenery and good weather, this valley in the heart of the Sierras de Cordoba provides the perfect backdrop for walks, hikes and horse rides and at Lake San Roque you can enjoy swimming, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking.
- Riding with gauchos: The sierras are the place to come if you want to learn about estancia farming life and you'd like to ride out with the gauchos or perhaps even see a good game of polo. A few good estancias offer such wonderful opportunities - a must for horse lovers.