Paraguay hasn’t been discovered as a tourist destination yet contrary to its neighbors Brazil and Argentina. So when you visit Paraguay you will immerse yourself in a country without much tourism. Foreign visitors are not very common, English is not spoken anywhere, but the locals are friendly and helpful and if you don’t have a problem to travel on your own and discover hidden treasures not mentioned in guidebooks or the internet you will love Paraguay.
In 1607 Jesuits were sent to Paraguay as missioners and teachers and they constructed the missions like self-sufficient towns across the countryside and used these as the focus for the education of the local Guarani Indians. There was education about culture, society, literacy and agriculture. Today you can still visit the impressive ruins with its baroque architectural details mixed with indigenous bas-relief of animals, fruit, flowers, and saints. The reddish-brown sandstone color of the buildings forms a beautiful contrast to the blue sky and the green forests surrounding the site.
The Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue were declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Another path to follow is the one of the Franciscan priests who founded the first Franciscan Reduction in Altos in 1580. A second one was established in Itá, one of the pottery towns in 1585, followed soon after by a third reduction in Yaguarón where you can still visit the only complete church left from the period of reductions. Other towns with Franciscan Reductions are Guarambaré, Ypané and Atyrá, Piribebuy, Caazapa and Tobatí.
From 1864/65 to 1870 the bloodiest conflict in Latin American history, the War of the Triple Alliance was fought between Paraguay and the allied countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. The National Park Vapor Cué is a museum located near the Yhaguy creek, where the remaining seven ships of the Paraguayan Armed Fleet that participated in the War of 1870 are exhibited. You can see some metallic pieces and objects, flags and photographs from that time, as well.
The park was developed with Spanish assistance and is simple but nicely laid out. It has a monument to the sailors of the Paraguayan Navy and the remains of each boat are clearly labeled and displayed around a large dirt cul-de-sac.
And there are all the other small towns that are filled with history and culture. These towns have maintained their enchantment and if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings you should visit some or all of them.
Areguá is located about 20 km from Asuncion and is right on the Ypacarai Lake, the largest lake in Paraguay. It has beautiful colonial housing throughout the city and the town’s cobblestone streets are lined with pottery shops and art galleries that offer good quality handicrafts.
San Bernardino was founded in 1881 by German immigrants and is a popular holiday resort for people from Greater Asunción during the summer months.
In Concepcion you can visit The Museo del Cuartel de la Villa Real which is full of war memorabilia and historical information from the country and if you want to get in touch with the locals a visit to the market is a must, as you will probably be the only foreigner shopping here.
Villarrica, is called “la ciudad andariega” or the “Walking City” as the city has changed its location seven times since its original foundation in 1570 in order to prevent attacks from bandeirantes, portuguese/brazilian bandits. Today is a college city, particularly the school of medicine. Its cathedral dates from 1873 but the bells are actually a century older, from 1781 and were made in Milan, Italy. The city has several old mansions, some of them private homes and other occupied by private or public institutions.
There are many other places to visit in Paraguay, and if you like to leave all the touristy places behind Paraguay is the place to travel to.
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