LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 56
Page. 66 - 70
By: Rossana Acquasanta
Córdoba was never just another city amongst the many "united provinces of the south". It had its roots in the "Catninu de tos Reynos de Arriba", the road that linked Potosí and Lima with Buenos Aires - thanks to the conqueror Don Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera, who in 1573, after an expedition from Santiago del Estero, settled on the banks of the Suquía.
The city grew, imbued in religious beliefs and wisdom. The first university in Argentina was erected in Córdoba in 1613 and it encouraged a popular uprising in 1774, it was also the nucleus of the "realista" movement in 1810, and sowed the seeds for the University Reform law and the National Academy of Science. It also propagated the development of the aeronautical and automobile industry. Despite the current economic instability, Córdoba is full of renewed energy exuded by the resident students.
No city can be seen from above without losing its charm, and Cordoba is no exception. From the fifth floor balcony of the architect and gourmet Alberto Navas' apartment, just across from the Santa Teresa convent, I was able to admire the details of the domes, bell-towers, the pantiled rooftops, as well as the historical emblems. The sight of the colonial rooftops intermingled with the modern architecture of Córdoba, gave me a clear understanding of the city. First I tried to concentrate on the perfect square drawn by the avenues Vélez Sársfield, 9 de Julio, Boulevard Chacabuco and Boulevard Arturo Illia. That is where the essence of the origin of the city ties, religion and erudition distributed among a few, no more than fifteen or so, buildings. I then looked to my right to capture the ornamental wealth marked by the Indian artists on the domes and towers of the cathedral. It dominates the San Martín square with its many different architectural styles. An altar made of silver shines in the interior, alongside murals painted by Emilio Caraffa and a marvellous replica of Our Lady of the Snow, amongst other treasures. Across the street from the Cathedral is the Cabildo (town council) with its simple and pure geometry. Just a few steps away, stands the 18th century Dean Gregorio Furies Museum of Religious Art and beside it is the Bishop Mercadillo Oratory, built in 1699, which forms part of an 18th century residence, with its wrought iron balcony. At my feet I had the Independencia Avenue, with the entrance to the Juan de Tejeda Museum of Religious Art, besides the church and convent of Saint Teresa.
The so called "Jesuit Block" groups together the Company of Jesus Church, the National University of Ccírdoba, and the Monserrat National School, all irresistible to the traveller. Close by, on Rivera Indarte Street and Colón, lies the crypt of the novice priests of the Jesuit order, with its thick stone walls, now used as a venue for concerts, plays, exhibitions and lectures, if and when they are in accordance with religious themes. I continued to scan sacred rooftops. That of the Santo Domingo Church, on Vélez Sarsfield and in front of it on Obispo Trejo, that of the Santa Catalina Church, only upen to the public for seven o'clock mass. Behind the Oratory one can see the De La Merced Church and, to its right on Maipú, the Pilar Church. I was even able to make out, from my privileged "lookout", the amazing gothié style of the Sagrada Corazún Church, although I had to stretch far out to the left and look towards Plaza España, where the Fine Arts Museum in Parque Sarmiento stands out. Two important sights, which were not in view from the balcony, are the San Roque Church, on Rosario de Santa Fé and Chacabuco, with a remarkable pulpit carved by the Indians and the Marquis of Sobremonte Museum on Rosario de Santa Fé and Ituzaingó.
With or without its history, a tour of the city leads unfailingly to La Cañada, the stream that cuts through the capital city. Following this intermission of green and water upstream, one arrives at the Pasaje Revol, more precisely on Belgrano and Achával Rodríguez, where on Saturdays and holidays there is a handicraft market called Paseo de Las Artes.
On the other side of town, another woman, Maria Inés Nino de Chechi, makes regional pastry in La Costanera. There will never be more delicious "colaciones" as those prepared in this well-known 1927 café, which will win over even those without a "sweet tooth".
For gourmets, Córdoba is not doing badly. The already successful Novecento in Buenos Aires and New York has now opened in Córdoba. Prestigious hotels are also appearing on scene. On the terrace of the Hotel Windsor, they have set up a fantastic venue for events, and in the lobby they have recently inaugurated the most attractive piano bar in town. It is true that in the 1970's the city developed in not the most attractive way, but fortunately, in later years more thought was given to the style of construction, and many brick buildings, mainly housing for students, were erected that do not clash with the old city.
In the meantime, the new urban trend has resulted in an impressive architectural synchronism, as one can appreciate in the so-called "intelligent building" on Trejo and Irigoyen, a glass giant crected on the base of an old structure.