Mendoza, land of wine, Aconcagua Mountain and much more

Now, I’m sharing this post about the city of Mendoza, and some places near this provincial capital.

I had visited Mendoza three times and I know I’ll go back. It’s so beautiful and a lot to do there.

My first visit to the land of wine was in April 2006, the second in October 2007 and finally November 2015.

Except for the 2006 visit of a week, the other two occasions were only 3-day stays; in fact Mendoza Capital is ideal for a typical weekend long getaway.

The City of Mendoza has several squares, starting at Independence Square in the downtown; it is the most extensive, covers four blocks, in which there are many monuments, water sources, and an artisan fair. On my first visit I bought a beautiful necklace, which today I continue wear it.

All the spaces have been remodeled, keeping in perfect conditions. Equidistant from this central square, there are four more squares: Italy, Spain, San Martin and Chile.

And around them are some traditional buildings such as the Provincial Legislature, the National College and the Independence Theater.

The square “Plaza Pedro del Castillo” was also remodeled, during excavating several treasures were found such as the remains of the original Cabildo from the colonial era and the water fountain that fed the ancient inhabitants. In this area, the city of Mendoza was founded, where the Museum of the Foundational Area (MAF) is located, there you will be able to see excavations with vestiges of the ancient city. It’s an archaeological museum “a site and interpretation”; whose purpose is to protect the material remains found there.

Jesuit Ruins of San Francisco
Jesuit Ruins of San Francisco

In the West corner of the Pedro del Castillo square you can visit the Jesuit Ruins of San Francisco. The building was built by the Jesuits between 1716 and 1731. In the year 1861 it was destroyed by a devastating earthquake. The place was declared a National Historic Monument where you can see the ruins of the Jesuit temple, the only visible remains of the ancient city of Mendoza. Here there is also an Interpretation.

Another must-see in the city is the Gral. San Martín Park that was designed in 1896 by the architect Carlos Thays, renowned French landscaper.

Main entrance to General San Martin Park
Main entrance to General San Martin Park

On the park there is a huge artificial lake, this artificial mirror of water that has an island, a rose garden, several pergolas and sculptures. Also, ideal for water sports, since there is located the Club Mendoza de Regatas for wakeboarding and rowing.

The main entrance to the park receives us with Los Portones, gates made of molten iron, crowned by the figure of a condor and the Mendoza’s coat of arms.

Upon entering the park, at the roundabout of the Caballitos de Marli, we took the Avenida de los Plátanos to the south. Through this avenue you can access the Fountain of the Continents, which has characteristic motifs of the European ornamental fountains of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Fountain Caballitos de Marli
Fountain Caballitos de Marli

In the area there are many ice cream stands, food trucks, and the park is ideal for a picnic. Within the park are the famous Frank Romero Day Greek Theater, stage for the National Harvest Festival (known as the Amphitheater), as well as the Zoo.

From the park you will reach the Cerro de la Gloria, where is located the Monument to the Army of the Andes, through pedestrian paths (there are ramps for the disabled) or by car on paved roads to enjoy a beautiful view of the city from its multiple viewpoints. There is a parking lot for some cars and excursion buses.

Cerro de la Gloria
Cerro de la Gloria

You cannot miss the Civic District, where the administrative activity of the Province is concentrated, a district inaugurated in 1951, with the Government House and the Palace of Justice, stunning buildings.

In the summit of the building of the City Hall you will find the Terrace Garden Mirador open to the public and located at a height of 30 meters to enjoy a panoramic city view.

A walk along the Sarmiento pedestrian street is a must, the commercial center of the city. Before the artery changes the name to Emilio Civit, you will see the tracks of the metrotranvía of Mendoza that circulates along the route of the old railway corridor, the General San Martín Railroad.

The street Emilio Civit, which concentrates the largest number of houses declared Cultural Heritage of the city, many date from the beginning of the last century. In addition, you can already see the Gates of the General Park San Martin mentioned.

There is also the Las Heras Av. with the old Mercado Central, with its traditional fruit stalls, meat. And Av. Aristides Villanueva, place of the nightlife due to the number of pubs, and restaurants.

The Gómez Building is a kind of miniature replica of the Empire State Building that has become the emblem of the urban profile (corner of Garibaldi and San Martín), a mixture of rationalist style and art deco.

Gómez Building, the art deco building in Mendoza Downtown
Gómez Building, the art deco building in Mendoza Downtown

On its terrace you can have a coffee in “El Décimo”, a viewpoint which offers excellent panoramic views of the city and mountains while enjoying a delicious lunch or dinner.

Mendoza is also known for its irrigation ditches, a channel through which irrigation waters are conducted, which are found throughout the city. Be careful when crossing the street, for one can fall between the distances of the path with the cord of it where the ditches are.

A nice walk, minutes from the city, don’t miss Chacras de Coria, small town, district of the Luján de Cuyo department. Ideal for walks and bicycle rides through its tree-lined streets, with many palm trees and an old train station that reveals the antiquity of the place. It became a gastronomic pole recognized for the excellence of its proposals. On Viamonte and Mitre streets you will find restaurants and grills where regional specialties and sophisticated cuisine are served.

Several boutique hotels are camouflaged among these beautiful residences, being much appreciated by foreign tourists.

Like every city that grows, there are more and more shopping malls that remain open, unlike the rest of the commerce in Mendoza, with a running schedule until 10 pm.

A few minutes from downtown, is the modern Mendoza Plaza Shopping. My favorite is the Palmares Open Mall in the department of Godoy Cruz, innovative for the area because of the building infrastructure, similar to the US shopping malls. Prestigious stores, haute couture and international gastronomy, within the framework of a privileged area for its landscape looking towards the mountains.

Nearby in Guaymallén inaugurated in 2013 the most recent mall in Mendoza, La Barraca Mall.

Also the tourist bus of the city of Mendoza crosses the city, with 18 stops, which include the most important points of the Mendoza capital.

Below a list of excursions that can be done from Mendoza city:

Vineyards: below you will find two websites to select which vineyards to visit. From the best-known and largest wineries such as Zuccardi, Pulenta, Norton, NietoSenetiner, to small winemakers. Remember that many of these vineyards have exquisite restaurants, in addition to touring their vineyards and learn more about this industry. Beside to the vineyards another key industry of the province is olive oil.

Also I visited Olivícola Boutique PASRAI (where the tasting requires the sacrifice of eating some delicious bread and cheeses with their oils)

Some vineyards
Some vineyards

Aconcagua Provincial Park, with their high peaks that exceed 5,000 meters reaching its maximum expression at the North Summit of Aconcagua (6,962 meters), this park attracts the attention of mountaineers from all over the world because is the highest mountain in the American Continent. It’s an easily accessible park located on the international road that to Chile, located about 165 km from the city of Mendoza, and 75 km from Uspallata. In my case I only visited it on the first trip to Mendoza and we went on an excursion with the people of Huentata Agency whom pick us up at the hotel. The famous Puente del Inca, is near the entrance of the Aconcagua Provincial Park. Within this tour we pass through La Villa Los Penitentes, a few kilometers from the Chilean border, it has a great development thanks to the Penitentes Ski Center. In the area there are varied hotel infrastructure from shelters, hostels, apartments and hotels. As it was April there was still no snow and the hotels were almost empty because there was no ski season. Remember ski season in Argentina is between June to September.

Aconcagua Mountain
Aconcagua Mountain

– Villavicencio Nature Reserve: The Villavicencio nature reserve is a protected natural area in the department of Las Heras, province of Mendoza, Argentina, located 50 km from the city of Mendoza, between the depressions of the Uspallata valley and the eastern plains of the Andes mountain range. A highly recommended visit where your mineralized water flows. In addition the road from Mendoza to Villavicencio is going through the San Martinian Routes.

– Potrerillos Reservoir: it is located on the Mendoza River about 70 kilometers from the city. With many activities in the dam Potrerillos, that offers different services, accommodation, and adventure tourism and water sports, like sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, and sport fishing of various species of trout. Also horse rental. There are restaurants that offer exquisite typical foods. And shops that sells elaborate crafts.

Potrerillos Reservoir
Potrerillos Reservoir

I leave some links with hotels that I stayed, and an unmissable restaurant:

NH Cordillera: here we stayed in April 2006, four stars, nice hotel with good rates, facing the square San Martin, a few meters from Plaza Independencia and Sarmiento pedestrian street.

Park Hyatt Mendoza: I visited this hotel on a business trip, invited by a travel agency, where they took us for a breakfast. Opposite square Independencia, this luxury hotel no needs further introduction, a just mention that has magnificent 19th century colonial façade.

Hotel Raíces Aconcagua: hotel where I stayed on that work trip in October 2007. Very nice hotel, now called Raíces Aconcagua, at that time was the Hotel Aconcagua, located half a block from Plaza Italia.

Intercontinental Hotel: another five star luxury hotel, away from the city center, although only a few minutes away by taxi, ideal for business and leisure travelers. The hotel is located next to Mendoza Plaza Shopping, the largest shopping center in the city. The hotel has a casino, the largest event hall in the west of the country, indoor pool and luxury spa. This was a pleasure trip; we rented a car through the hotel to move around Mendoza. They gave us Upgrade to the Suite. We stayed in November 2015.

Francesco Ristorante Barbera: Restaurant located in the heart of the City of Mendoza, beautiful gardens, VIP room and an original wine cellar. Exquisite food and perfect attention from all your staff. Of the three visits, I dined there twice. I highly recommend it.

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