Santa Fe is the capital of Santa Fe province, the location where the first national constitution was ratified (1853) as was the first Alfajor (the Argentine national cookie) was created (1861). It is the 9th largest city in Argentina with a population of 500K as of 1010. It is hard to tell whether the city’s best days are behind or ahead.
Santa Fe was founded in 1651 near the confluence of several rivers: Rio Parana, Rio Salado, and Rio Santa Fe. Traces of it colonial past remain and it appears considerable effort is being expended to reverse the inertia of decay. Refurbishing of some colonial structures is underway and tall modern apartments are under construction. Yet the beaches on both sides of the river, which have turned to weeds and layers of trash, serve mostly as fishing spots. The Costanera (promenades) remain undeveloped.
We are staying in a old hotel on the major commercial street highlighted by a peatonal (pedestrian walk way) lined with high end clothing stores, cafes, and collapsing buildings. It is fairly quiet, though that may have a lot to do with our tendency to arrive on a Sunday when many businesses, museums, offices, etc. are closed.
We have enjoyed our stay here, given the closures, walking the various neighborhoods and imagining the city as it once was. Many of the old facades retain their elaborate ornamentation.
Here is an old grain storage silo complex that has been restored to a modern luxury hotel and Casino. The rooms are round, we hear. We tried to take an elevator to the rooftop deck, but after going to the second floor could go neither up nor down and had to take the emergency exit to get back to the ground floor. Security met us at the base and gave us pretty clear directions about how to leave the property.
An old suspension bridge is still used, though a modern multi-lane concrete structure is immediately adjacent. We walked across to the east side of the river and had lunch in a restaurant that had an enormous menu but would only take orders for a handful of options.
The Costanera provides a gathering spot for families and fisherpersons, though none are apparent in these photos.
The Plaza 25 de Mayo has been in use since the 16th century, and some of the buildings, including the Iglesia de Compania, date to the 17th century.
We are in Santa Fe as an intermediate stop on our return home. We arrived yesterday morning after nearly 24 hours traveling from Puerto Iguazu, our farthest destination from Buenos Aires. Tomorrow we take a seven hour bus ride to BsAs where we have only three items on our agenda: buy clothes suitable for the opera, attend an opera at Teatro Colon, and catch our flight on Thursday evening.
Paula and I will be spending some time in the next three days catching up on our blogs and sharing some of our experiences for the last weeks. We have fallen way behind.