Alta Gracia Travel Guide

  • the Jesuit estancia of Alta Gracia
    the Jesuit estancia of Alta Gracia
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  • the Main Patio and Residence
    the Main Patio and Residence
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  • Things to Do
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Alta Gracia Things to Do

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    by GentleSpirit Updated Dec 27, 2012

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    The main sight in Alta Gracia is the museum of the Estancia, which came to be owned by the Jesuit Order in 1643. Prior to that, the estancia had been in the family of Don Juan Nieto, who had helped in the colonization of the area.

    The Jesuits transformed Alta Gracia from a serene country estate into a highly productive economic enterprise. A man-made dike was built (El tajamar) to assist in irrigation and the Baroque stone buildings were raised. There was, of course, the main residence, the chapel, carpenter shops, textile production facilities, agricultural areas.

    Following the expulsion of the Jesuits by the Spanish Crown, the estancia became property of Santiago de Liniers, the last Viceroy of La Plata. Liniers only lived here for a few months though. The last owner, Jose Manuel Solares, gave pieces of the estancia to his employees, giving rise to the town of Alta Gracia. His conditions were that the tajamar would be kept and the veneration of the Nuestra Senora de la Merced would be continued.

    Today, what was once the main residence is the museum. The church continues in its original function as a parish church. The original workshops became a high school and the former farm lands over time became neighborhoods of the town of Alta Gracia.

    The museum itself gives an overview of what life at the estancia was like in colonial times. The decoration was relatively sparse and simple. There are mock-ups of the worskshops. It is a well done, interesting museum which is well worth seeing. If you don't plan on seeing the other Jesuit estancias, Alta Gracia was one of the more important ones, in terms of size and productive capacity, so it would be a good example.

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    by GentleSpirit Updated Aug 25, 2012

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    In Argentina you will hear the word Che all over the place, very loosely translated it means "man" or "dude" for the more casually oriented. For some people that comes as a surprise because the word Che seems to bring up the immediate identification with Che Guevara.

    Ernesto Guevara is known in Argentina as "El Che." He was the Argentine doctor that went off to do his part to liberate Latin America and ended up at the side of Fidel Castro in Cuba during the revolution there. After some years in Cuba, Guevara came back to South America to try to foment revolution and met his end in Bolivia.

    The Guevara family was upper middle class. Originally from Rosario, they moved to Alta Gracia to allow Ernesto relief from his chronic asthma, which the dry mountain air helped with. The house where Guevara lived, Villa Nydia, was converted into a museum. They spent a great deal of time trying to show the more human side of Che Guevara, the struggles he had living with the asthma, some of his inner life. There are lots of pictures in the museum from all phases of his life.

    Che went to high school in Cordoba city and later went to study medicine in Buenos Aires.

    The museum itself is well done, very thorough and not overly fawning in its praise of Che. I thought the presentation at the end where they talk about his achievements after the revolution in Cuba was a bit too long, otherwise the museum was large enough to address Che's life, but not so extensive that it went into endless trivialities.

    Give this museum about 1-2 hours to see it completely. For foreigners the price is unfortunately steep, and truthfully now it is probably not worth it anymore unless discounts are given.
    Entrance- Argentines 15 pesos, foreigners 75 pesos

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    by GentleSpirit Written Aug 17, 2012

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    The bell tower celebrates the 350th anniversary of Alta Gracia. Today it serves as a tourist information point.

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Alta Gracia Hotels

Alta Gracia Local Customs

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    by GentleSpirit Updated Dec 27, 2012

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    At the time the Guevara family moved to Alta Gracia it was considered a relatively more wealthy community. The Guevaras were not wealthy, just middle class. Che Guevara, of course, gained fame, for being at the right hand of Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution. He later came back to South America with the dream of starting revolutions continent-wide. He died in the Bolivian jungle trying to create a revolution among the indigenous.

    Alta Gracia holds a celebration called "semana del che" which is 4 days to celebrate the life, the work of Che Guevara. There are movies, music and general festivities.

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    by GentleSpirit Updated Dec 27, 2012

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    On February 11 every year, from the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Lourdes. upwards of 50,000 participate in this procession that goes for 45 kilometres.

    Apparently there was a documented apparition of the virgin in 2011 at the Shrine.

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    by GentleSpirit Updated Dec 27, 2012

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    The town of Alta Gracia is named after Our Lady of Altagracia, who was brought from Spain and is considered the patron saint of the Dominican Republic. During colonial times, Santo Domingo was one of the most important of Spanish settlements in the New World.

    The Nuestra Senora de la Merced (Our Lady of Mercy) is a devotional inside the chapel of the estancia. the Order of Mercy is an actual religious order, that vows to free others weaker in the faith, in addition to the usual monastic vows. This order spread the devotion to Our Lady of Mercy, whose feast day is September 24. This is widely celebrated in Argentina, Dominican Republic and Peru

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Alta Gracia Off The Beaten Path

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    by GentleSpirit Updated Dec 27, 2012

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    One of the fascinating things they have at the museum in the estancia is a shield showing the two hands shaking. This was found beneath 8 coats of paint in 1972.

    This shield was known to be a masonic affiliation shield. However, there is doubt as to when this was installed. It is known that the Freemasons were active in Argentina. In the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata, and indeed in the liberators of Latin America, there were adherents to the Masonic tradition. The Masons in that period worked for Latin American emancipation. General San Martin, for example, was a known Freemason.

    It is unknown exactly when the shield originates from at Alta Gracia. The Jesuits were expelled in 1767. One of the important side effects of this was that there was emancipation of slaves, which did affect Jesuit properties.

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