4 Outstanding Heritage Sites To See In Paraguay

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4 Outstanding Heritage Sites To See In Paraguay

Date: Feb 1, 2023
Author: Collins.cidar 648 No Comments

Another one of south America’s wonders, Paraguay is a home away from home destination for travelers and adventure seekers. One can choose to visit the crumbling settlements erected by the Jesuits missionaries in the 16th century who traveled through the region converting the indigenous Guarani people to Christianity. Only landscape ruins remain and the best preserved sites can be found at Jesus de Tavarangue and Trinidad del Parana, which is a UNESCO heritage site.

The lively water front area of Encarnacion has earned a reputation as one of Paraguay’s major tourist destination for regenerative travel as locals and travelers flock the beach during the summer season, which summits with the country’s biggest carnival.

Prepare to be amazed by a cascade of waterfalls in Presidente Franco just south of Ciudad del Este. The ever crowded Iguazu Falls just across the border with Brazil and Argentina is one of the spectacular sights on earth. Visitors can cross the “friendship bridge” into Brazil or head south into Argentina.

Millennials are not left out on the adventure. Pay homage to one of Paraguay’s greatest heroes as you visit Cerro Cora National park where a monument is raised in his honor. The park is abundantly eco-friendly with lookout points and hiking trails. Park rangers were ever available to guide visitors through its natural wonder. 

Paraguay may be landlocked, but the Parana River is so wide at San Cosme y Damian that it gives the impression you have reached the coast. The impressive sand dunes along the banks of the river area must see and so are the Jesuit ruins in the town, which makes a prefect stop off for those traveling between Asuncion and Encarnion. Responsible travel is quite achievable in this South American Nation as facilities are put in place not only to welcome visitors, but to give them a time of their lives.

Jesuit Missions of the Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue

The Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue are part of a set of 30 missions in the Río de la Plata basin established by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) during the 17th and 18th centuries. Seven of these missions were located in Paraguay and the others in the present territory of Argentina and Brazil. The sets of the different missions were attached to villages called “reductions”, endowed with a unique urban structure. Throughout the periods, the missions adopted different styles, but all combined indigenous elements with Christian attributes and symbolism showing Baroque, Romanesque and Greek influences, as part of an unprecedented process of acculturation.

The Jesuits arrived in the province of Guayrá in 1588. With the permission of King Philip II of Spain, the missionaries aimed to Christianize the native population and protect them from the colonial labor system of the encomienda , a quasi -slavery. The inhabitants were therefore brought together and committed to settling and converting to Christianity but, unlike other missions in the New World, they were not forced to Europeanize. Many indigenous traditions were maintained and encouraged, such as the cultivation of yerba mate ( Ilex paraguariensis or te jesuita in Spanish), which is still a representative regional product.

The missions are located about 10 km apart, each surrounded by its own buffer zone. Although today the missions are essentially made up of ruins and archaeological remains, their initial plan still apparent shows similarities: the church was the basic unit, the urban core and the center of spiritual life. Near the church was the residence of the Jesuit fathers and right next to it, the house of the caciques. The rest of the mission included a courtyard, cloisters serving as workshops, a garden, the tupa mbaé, the cemetery and the prison .Right next to the church was a large square facing the four cardinal points and featuring crosses or statues and shrines at the four corners. Streets 16 to 18 m wide branched off from the squares. The houses of the native residents were rectangular arcaded buildings, 60 m long.

The mission of Santísima Trinidad del Paraná is the best preserved urban ensemble. Although established in 1706, after most other reductions, it was also the most ambitious of the missions, with its complex of buildings covering an area of ​​around 8 ha. The large stone church had a beautiful dome and very careful decoration. It was built around 1745 according to the project of the Milanese architect Juan Bautista Prímoli. In addition to the main church, there are remains of the small church, the college or school, the cloister, the cemeteries, the vegetable gardens, the belfry, the houses of the natives and the workshops.

The urban structure of Jesús de Tavarangue remains as an archaeological ruin. This reduction was founded in another place in 1685 and transferred a few years later to its present location when the mission was built. It was made up of the church (which remained unfinished), the Grand-Place, the school attached to the church and of which only one room remains, and houses for orphans and widows called coty guazú ( big houses). The mission also included an orchard for the fathers.

The mission of Jesús de Tavarangue as an architectural expression is characterized by the association of different styles, in particular the Mudejar style (Christiano-Arabic) with its trefoil arches. There are no other examples of this style, from the time of the Jesuits, in the region that once constituted the Province of Paraguay or Paracuaria.

Sistema Ferrocarril Pte. Carlos Antonio Lopez

Sistema Ferrocarril Pte. Carlos Antonio Lopez/ Photographer: Center for Railroad Photography & Art/Flickr

The system inaugurated in 1861 includes ademas del tendido de vias de esa epoca, los talleres, maquinarias y accesorios que son accionados por la figura matriz de una caldera, sistemas de agua corriente por gravedad, los sistemas de comunicacion del siglo pasado – telefono a magneto y telegrafo, las locomotoras a vapor y bienes muebles e immuebles – estaciones y conjuntos arquitectonicos de algunos poblados ferrovia rios – y su trayecto constituye un recorrido por zonas de gran valor paisajistico.

Paraguayan Pantanal

Paraguayan Pantanal/Credit:reisegraf/istockphoto

This site has been designated as a Wetlands of International Importance (known also as Ramsar site) under the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance. This place is globally important due to the transition between the Chaco, Pantanal, Amazonas and Atlantic Forest (BAAPA) ecosystems. It is also an Important Bird Area (IBA), due to 22 migratory bird species (most of them neartics migrants) use the site as a stopover place. The Paraguayan Pantanal is equally important for the conservation of charismatic mammals, such as the Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), Marsh Deer (Blastocerus dichotomus)Puma (Puma concolor), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), Giant Armadillo (Priodontes maximus) and the Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). Most of these mammals are considered in some category of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (www.iucnredlist.org). The area’s forests include species such as White Quebracho, Samu’û, and many cacti. The Red Quebracho, Yvyra Ita, Palo Blanco and Labón characterize the transition area between the Chaco and Pantanal. Historically, threats to biodiversity have been few, but recent cattle ranching activities have begun to create new pressures.

The Pantanal is a low altitude alluvial plan that is seasonally flooded and drained by the Praguay River and its tributaries. Part of this site has been designated as a wetland of international importance (also known as a Ramsar site) under the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance. This place is of global importance due to the transition between the ecosystems of the Chaco, Pantanal, Amazon and Atlantic Forest (BAAPA). It is also an Important Bird Area (IBA), due to 22 species of migratory birds (most of them are Nearctic migrants) that use the site as a place to stop. The Paraguayan Pantanal is equally important for the conservation of charismatic mammals, such as the Great Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the swamp deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), the Puma (Puma concolor), the Jaguar (Panthera onca), the giant Otter (Pteronura) brasiliensis) Tatu carreta (Priodontes maximus) and the Jurumi (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). Most of these mammals are considered in some category of the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species (www.iucnredlist.org). The forests of the area include species such as Quebracho Blanco, Samu’û and many cacti. The Red Quebracho, Yvyra Ita, Palo Blanco and Labón characterize the transition area between the Chaco and the Pantanal. Historically, threats to biodiversity have been scarce, but recent livestock activities have begun to create new pressures.

Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve

Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve/Photographer: harold oppenheimer/Flickr

The Mbaracaya Forest Nature Reserve (MFNR) consists of 64,405.7 hectares, located in the eastern region of Paraguay near the Brazilian border, an area with small landholdings and numerous cattle rancHng establishments in the Mbaracaya Range (Karapa). In the east there are various properties, ranches and two indigenous communities of different ethnic partialities, and in the south and east, there are farms of varying sizes.

Mbaracaya is located within the humid subtropical forest of eastern Paraguay, part of the Interior Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil, northeastern Argentina and eastern Paraguay. It is the largest continuous remnant of the IAF in Paraguay. The annual average temperature is between 21’C to 22°C, and the total annual precipitation is 1,800 mm. The Mbaracaya Range runs northeast/southeast, crossing the northeastern corner of the Reserve. This area is composed of numerous small, but deep, valleys with recurrent waterfalls creating hundreds of small tributaries towards the Jejui River basin.

Different forest types cover almost 88% of the Reserve and the remainder consists of wetlands, pasture lands, lagoons, rivers and Cerrado vegetation. The forest is divided in three different types: tall, medium and low. The tall forest generally has a significant amount of humidity, with few areas containing little or no amount of water. Many tall canopy trees are good quality lumber and can measure up to 30-35 meters. The low forests vary; some are quite far from the watercourses while others are periodically or almost permanently flooded. The Riparian forest borders the Jejui-mi River and is susceptible to periodic floods that can be very severe after days of intense rain.

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