Salta is considered the most beautiful city in Argentina. The name Salta in quechua actually means beautiful. It was established as a main trading hub as it is located halfway between Lima and Buenos Aires. We did a free walking tour around the old town in the morning. The main square in Salta is called the Plaza de Armas, like many other Spanish colonial towns. The Plaza de Armas was always the first square built in towns because it was originally a military fortress. On one side of the square, usually the north or wealthy side, would be the cathedral. On the south side would be the city hall. The main cathedral in Salta is also considered a basilica since the Pope came to visit it in 1987 elevating its status.
The Franciscan church is most known for the tallest campanile, or clock tower, in South America. It is in Italian Baroque style. Interestingly, Argentina still has no separation of church and state, so churches are funded by a portion of the population’s income taxes.
The first hospital in Salta was in the 1720’s, but it is now a convent for 19 nuns. The families of the nuns had to pay the equivalent of $25 million today for the convent to accept their daughters. Having a daughter as a nun elevated the family’s social standing.
Throughout our travels through South America, we have encountered a few road blocks due to presidential elections. Luckily, Argentina’s elections went in favor of the left majority, ousting a prior right wing president who led the country into economic collapse. Because of this, there were no protests during our time in Argentina like we have seen all over Latin America. The protests in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are being called the “Latin Spring.”
That afternoon we walked up the Cerro San Bernardo, or San Bernardo Hill for views over the city. The best part was the cable car ride down.
One night we went to a peña show, which is a traditional gaucho dance from the rural countryside. We watched the show while eating famous Argentinian steaks.
We also did a wine tasting with a sommelier at a wine shop that has been in the family for generations. We tried a white, a rosé, and a red wine with a beautiful charcuterie board and empanadas.