Salta, Argentina

Charme colonial no país dos gaúchos

Iyna Bort Caruso

Salta la Linda--Salta the Beautiful--is the nickname for the capital city of the Salta Province, located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in northwest Argentina.  The New York Times calls it a “bright spot on the tourist map.”

In the heart of gaucho country, closer to the Bolivian, Chilean and Paraguayan borders than to Buenos Aires, Salta is a region of red rock valleys and vineyards with one of the country’s best climates. An international airport is a main hub for regular flights to Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and other major South American cities.

Salta was founded in 1582 by a Spanish conquistador and is considered one of Argentina’s best-preserved colonial cities. It is the Spanish-Gaucho-Andean mix of cultures that gives it its distinctive flavor.

The city revolves around a main plaza, Ninth of July Square, surrounded by neo-classical architecture and museums housed in old mansions. Visitors love Salta for its well-developed infrastructure and year-round schedule of arts and festivals. Although a sizable city, Salta’s narrow streets, outdoor cafes, artist street markets and peñas, or folk concerts, make it feel intimate. Salta is also the origination point for one the world’s great train rides, the Train to the Clouds that crosses bridges, tunnels and viaducts as it climbs nearly 14,000 feet to the Andes Mountains. The Salta Province is also an emerging wine-growing region. Some vineyards are planted more than a mile above sea level.

Real estate in Salta is considered affordable, especially compared to properties in Buenos Aires. Homes in the historic district command higher prices, especially those closest to the square. It is rare for an authentic colonial residence to hit the market--they are far and few between--but colonial-style homes with maid’s quarters and interior gardens are popular, as are modern apartments. Those seeking villas on larger parcels find it in San Lorenzo, one of the most exclusive areas, just a few miles outside of the city.