PARAGUAY – Asunción city trip & Encarnación Jesuit Missions

Paraguay - Jesuit Mission La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná
Paraguay - Jesuit Mission La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná

A visit to Paraguay was not high on my list to be honest, but as I want to see every country, capital and UNESCO sites I had to go there. I opted to add a trip together with a business trip to Buenos Aires. From the capital Asunción I drove to Posadas, Argentina, in a private car with driver which was not cheap but the fastest way. The Jesuit Missions are just across the border there and staying in Posadas was easier. Enjoy reading about my visit to Paraguay!

Asunción – city walk

Early morning took a Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Asuncion. The flight was quite in time and immigration in Paraguay was easy, just a (big) stamp in the passport. Leavning the airport was easy to get a taxi for a short ride to the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Asuncion. After a few hours rest I got picked up by the hired driver and guide to checkout Asuncion city center. Asuncion is not a to big city, everything is very cheap and the food is just great. Tasted some great new flavors while being in Paraguay. For the city center it’s actually not that bad to walk it yourself if you have more time, it’s safe and small, but as I was on a tight schedule and wanted to learn a bit about the culture too I hired an English speaking guide. Here follows a summary of the things we checked out and see the gallery for a photo overview. We visited: the old train station, with one of the first steam locomotives in South America, the National Pantheon of Heroes, the Museum of Independence House, the Post Office, the Municipal Theater, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Cabildo Republic, the Government Palace, the port, the Recova (craft market), the Cerro Lambaré, Avenida Mcal. Lopez, the official residence of the President (Mburuvicha Roga), the building of the Central Bank of Paraguay.

Asunción – The Golden Circuit

The Golden Circuit takes you around Asuncion to nice villages and cities with lots of colonial old buildings. The cities I visited during my trip today are: Ita, Yaguaron, Paraguari, Chololo, Piribebuy, Caacupe, San Bernardino, Itagua, Capiata, San Lorenzo. Departure City Itaugua to see exhibition of ceramics. Yaguaron City, church of the seventeenth century, a beautiful expression of Spanish-Guarani baroque art, with sculptures carved in gold motif native and religious. Paraguari City, where starts a mountain road to the footrests of the high mountains, streams and adorned with beautiful valley to the town of Piribebuy. Then to be returned to the city of mountain village Caacupe to visit the Basilica of the miraculous virgin which attracts yearly pilgrimage of hundred of thousands of pilgrims. City of San Bernardino, the main center for water sports and resorts in the country. Capiata City with its seventeenth-century church whose altar was carved by the Guarani Indians. San Lorenzo, called a university town with its Cathedral of neo-Gothic style.

Asunción to Posadas (Argentina)

Today a long drive of about six hours from Asuncion to Posadas in Argentina to be dropped at the HA Posadas Urbano Hotel directly by the driver. He went with me together across the border which is much better then buses and so which you probably have to switch as they not go over the border. The border crossing itself was easy to do but take care you get both exit and entry stamps in your passport as especially the exit stamp of Paraguay sometimes are forgotten and can get you into trouble later on other travels. It was late and I decided to take dinner in the hotel: BAD CHOICE! Meat in Argentina should be good; but the steak in this hotel was terrible quality, dry and just bad. I like meat, and this really ruined by day.

Jesuit Missions Paraguay

The Jesuit Missions in South America (which are in Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia) are remains from the religious missions from the 17th century. The Jesuits build towns for the native people which were self sufficient. The Jesuits provided a structured life compared to the nomad life the Guarani people had. They provided writing, education, political order in towns ranging up to a few thousand of people. In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from South America and the towns became abounded at the beginning of the 19th century and overgrown by the wilderness. At some missions you can still see this, others are very nice restored. For myself, it was very interesting to see this kind of churches in the middle of the jungle compared to Europe where they are mainly in the city centers.

The first mission we stopped in Paraguay was the Santísima Trinidad del Paraná Ruins. At arrival I was very surprised by the size of the site and how well it was preserved. At the time of visit there was a small group of 4 or 5 people before me and two more people after me. Seems not to many tourist come here but I must say that preservation is very good. This mission is one of the biggest of all and has the biggest church of all. One can see great carvings in stone, an altar piece out of one piece. Around the main church one can see the buildings the people lived, schools and other buildings. All in a very nice place and for sure a place to visit if in the neighborhood.

From Santísima Trinidad del Paraná Ruins we drove a bit further to Jesús de Tavarangue Ruins. The interesting part of this place is that it was never finished. The building was build according to the plans of the Church of Loyola in Italy. Totally different than the other place, and even more magnificent these are not really ruins; but more a non finished church. Various carvings, doors, bell tower and other parts show the fineness of the architecture in detail. Also here I was again surprised by the beauty and luckily the sky became blue! One thing, do not walk on the big grass at the entrance, because there are birds nesting who WILL ATTACK you 🙂

From this mission we drove back to Argentina to see the missions there. Please refer to the Argentina post:
ARGENTINA – Posadas & Jesuit Missions (2013.07.31 – 2013.08.11 S.A. Trip)

my Paraguay visit was over and I have the feeling I have seen most of the sights there but would like to return once to explore more of the north of Paraguay.