Córdoba and Environs: Places to Explore

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Córdoba City

Stone buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries line the cobbled streets around shady Plaza San Martín in Córdoba's compact Centro Histórico, which has the highest concentration of colonial buildings in Argentina. The city's history stretches back to 1573, when Geronimo Luís de Cabrera first set foot here. His family was from Córdoba, Spain, and he named the town accordingly. Both north–south and east–west streets change names at the cabildo (town hall) on Plaza San Martín.

The tolling bells and cross-topped towers of downtown's 10 churches are evidence of the role the Jesuits played here. This was the center of their missionary work, from their arrival in 1599 until their expulsion from Argentina in 1767. Other architectural reminders of their presence abound, most notably at the Manzana Jesuítica (Jesuit Block), a block-long conglomeration of 17th-century buildings that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more than two centuries the city was Argentina's cultural and intellectual hub. Its national university, established in 1613, earned the city its nickname—La Docta, or the Learned. Today this provincial capital is the country's second-largest city (population 1.3 million).

The epicenter of Córdoba's emerging restaurant scene is the Nueva Córdoba neighborhood, a few blocks south of the center. Avenida Hipólito Yrigoyen is its main thoroughfare. Southeast of the center, on the other side of Avenida Poeta Lugones, is the Parque Sarmiento, home to the zoo and fine arts museum.

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