Paraguay travel blog by Mark Berman -
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My 2nd and 3rd times in Asuncion were fantastic and I got to see much of the city. It was raining the 1st time I came here in 2009 and I
just passed through after staying the night across the road from the bus terminal. I then travelled by bus over the Paraguay River into Argentina
to Corrientes the next day. When I came here the 2nd time in 2012 I arrived from Paraguari 2hrs south / east and stayed a couple of nights
and on the 3rd time in 2016 I travelled from Resistencia in Argentina up to Clorinda across the river from Asuncion to get here.
Beaux Arts Architecture
Asuncion is a city full of beaux arts
architecture and colonial buildings. A place where you will likely see a horse and cart in the
middle of the city amongst the traffic. Asuncion is quite a safe place and the people are friendly too. They will often ask you to take
their photo or smile for the camera if they see you are taking a picture - that's a complete contrast to Bolivia I must say.
Hostel & Plaza Uruguaya
I found a
hostel near the historical center around the corner from Plaza Uruguaya so this was the first place I visited. It's a beautiful big leafy
plaza with a central monument of Artigas holding his hat. There are a number of white artworks of women including a ballerina, Venus
or Aphrodite (they are not sure which one she is) and to the mothers. The locals like to sit and play checkers on the park benches.
Beside the plaza is a monument to Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
(1753-1811) - a Mexican priest and independence leader. Asuncion had been
celebrating its bicentennial and around this part of the city were dozens of pictures on street lamp poles of famous and important people
of Paraguay. Don't worry I won't name them all!
Walking along the street I came to a shop with some really cool wooden sculptured figures
of natives painted black with big red lips outside on the sidewalk. Plaza Juan E. O'Leary, a nice park, lots of trees and a
monument obviously to Juan E. O'Leary (1879-1969), an historian, journalist, politician and poet. Next I saw the landmark building called
the National Pantheon of the Heroes and its plaza. The Panteon Nacional de los Heroes building keeps the remains of some famous figures
and is kept under military guard. It's quite a sight with the dome, tall columns and flags flying all around it. It took over 70yrs to
construct commencing in 1863. On the street beside the Panteon, indigenous Guarani women were selling some beautiful and colorful hand-crafted
jewelry - bracelets, necklaces, wristbands and rings. Across the road on the corner is another outstanding building - the Ministerio de
Hacienda, green in color, with a dome, arched doorways and many balconies. On this street corner are several stalls selling touristy type
things made from leather and wood, souvenirs basically. Nearby is the pinkish building Municipal Theatre Ignacio A. Pane
built in 1843.
Near the River
A couple of minutes walk away is Plaza Independencia with its diagonal checkered pattern on the ground and tall slim monument in the middle.
Beside the plaza is Asuncions attractive cathedral which was constructed from 1842-1845, it's right beside the Paraguay River and strangely
a little shanty village where kids play outside their shacks and come up to the street and ask people for money. The Legislative Palace is
close-by, a pink building with many archways on 2 levels, it was inaugurated in 1857. In front of the palace is a statue of Asuncions founder
- Spanish explorer Juan de Salazar y Espinoza (1508-1560). Continuing my leg-powered exploration of Asuncion I came now to a huge monument
of a man on horseback, it is not stated who it is. There are a couple of huge cannons at the foot of the tall pedestal. As I walked in the
direction of the Government Palace I photographed some really fantastic street art painted on rugged building facades, there is beauty
in the derelict sometimes.
The Government Palace is quite something, a huge neoclassical building of white and pink with well-kept lawns,
red flower gardens and yellow / green hedges. It's also known as the Palacio de los Lopez and was finished in 1867. Across the road I could see
good views of the river from Plaza de los Desaparecidos, this plaza also has a diagonal checkered pattern and some palm trees.
On the riverbanks
some serious remodeling was in progress - the construction of Parque Bicentenario, a park with 13 hectares of new public space and beaches.
Around the Port
I made my way towards the port area. There is a small shady plaza here where men stand
and play some kind of card game that they take quite seriously. There are some busts of ex-President Alfredo Stroessner (1912-2006),
Isabel (Mother of America) and Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) (1451-1506). I looked out at the river at days end, it's quite
beautiful. I could see the beach over to the right. I walked back to the hostel and passed by Casa Viola (Viola House) which was the first
house restored in the cultural center, built in the 1750's, it is now a museum.
Change Hotel for Quick Exit
I changed hotel to be closer to the bus terminal for a quick getaway the following day and spent this day seeing more of Asuncion.
Mercado Guasu - Saturday Markets
The amazing Saturday markets - Mercado Guasu (La Gran Feria de los Mercaderos), 50-70% off normal prices! It's an extremely
busy market full of activity, it really becomes the center of Asuncion on Saturdays. I created a video of what it is like, see here
. I bought a gift for
my girlfriend from a Guarani women and sat down for a nice yummy Arabic kebab. Most of the city were glued to their TV sets watching a soccer match between Paraguay and Bolivia by late afternoon.
Other sights you can see include the castle-like church Iglesia de la Encarnacion, Independence House (Casa de la Independencia
), Plaza de la Democracia and inside the cathedral.
Bus to the Gran Chaco
My 2nd time in Asuncion I travelled for 8 and a half hours north through the Gran Chaco
Day Trips from Asuncion
During my 3rd visit I did a day trip from Asuncion to Aregua and Itaugua
, then returned.
When I did leave I headed to the lake at San Bernardino (2hrs) and Caacupe (25mins more)