By Iván Beltrán
Photos: Carlos Gómez
Like all cities around the world, Rosario, located in the southeastern corner of Argentina’s Santa Fe province, boasts several dazzling and highly memorable attractions that draw visitors and embody the city’s splendor, long history, traditions, and culture. The history, geography, and traditions of these attractions have made them must-see sights and symbols of the spirit of the city. We present ten attractions no tourist should miss.
For Love of Country
On the banks of the Paraná River, in the spot where General Manuel Belgrano first raised the Argentinean flag, stands the National Flag Memorial, which welcomes a stream of locals and tourists year after year. Visitors leave with a feeling for the ideals and freedoms upon which the Argentinean nation was established. Located in Flag National Park, the Memorial was designed by two cutting-edge architects: Ángel Guido and Alejandro Bustillo, in collaboration with sculptors like Alfredo Bigatti and José Fioravanti. An imposing monolith rising 200 feet into the air, the tower is topped by an observation point and overlooks a plaza and a funerary urn honoring the Unknown Soldier.
Cousin to the Sea
The history of Rosario cannot be fathomed without understanding its deep and lasting relationship with the Paraná River. This waterway —with an impressive volume of water that is reflected in its Guaraní name, “cousin to the sea”— has been the lifeblood of the city’s economic, recreational, tourist, and working existence. The river reaches its maximum power in Rosario and has been compared to the Mississippi and Ganges rivers.
God in the Round
Rosario residents are universally acknowledged to be passionate about soccer and their devotion to their professional teams makes for fascinating friendly rivalries, discussions, and controversies. Two teams, Rosario Central —also known as La Academia (The Academy) or, in the less kind words of its detractors, the Canallas (Swine)— and Newell’s Old Boys (playfully nicknamed La Lepra or The Plague), are the focus of most residents’ affection and zeal. The Gigante del Arroyito Stadium (owned by Rosario Central) and the Marcelo Bielsa Stadium, formerly known as the Colossus of the Park, set the stage for these two clubs. Whenever the two teams clash in a classic match-up, an atmosphere of celebration and healthy competition sweeps through the city like a hurricane.
Spreading through central Rosario, España Park is a magical amalgam of history, art, food, and the simple pleasure of strolling through a pleasant and refreshing setting. This urban delight is located on the shores of the Paraná River. A short visit suffices to reveal that the park’s flora and fauna did not make their way here by accident, but rather through a long and well-considered process. A cultural center on the northern side of the park provides an ideal venue for theater and music performances. The staircase leading up to the south façade is particularly worthy of note.
Imagination to the Fore
On the corner of Sarmiento and Santa Fe stands the El Cairo Bar, a mute witness to the creativity, wordplay, poetry, and humor of Rosario intellectuals. The refined and seductive ambience evokes the region’s best writers and artists, starting with legendary writer and caricaturist Roberto Fontanarrosa, who turned his bar into a workshop of projects, stories, and brilliant brushstrokes. People are sure that this center of creativity will remain open for many productive years to come.
The Street of Time
A stroll along Córdoba Street carries pedestrians through time, history, and ages of past glory, making them feel as if they were gliding through the best of the nature and soul of Latin American architecture. Cutting through the city center from east to west, the street has been a meaningful presence here since Colonial times. In those days, it led toward Córdoba and the provinces, investing the street with considerable importance. It joins up with National Route 9 on the outskirts of the city.
Rosario chefs display more than their share of the imagination characteristic of great Argentinean chefs. Easy availability of freshwater fish and the city’s proximity to ranching areas combine to provide Rosario with a fabulous smorgasbord of dining options. The cuisine is a notably harmonious blend of the oldest Latin American traditions with the techniques and contrivances of Western cooking, especially Italian, Spanish, and French. Caramel, alfajor (a sort of sandwich cookie), grilled steak, freshwater fish, and the irresistible Carlitos, or toasted ham and cheese sandwich, are just a few of the local treats. The many famous classic restaurants include the renowned El Escauriza, Sunderland Bar, El Viejo Balcón, La Estancia, Te Amaré Vicenta, and El Cairo.
The Juan B. Castagnino Museum of Fine Arts stands at the intersection of Boulevard Oroño and Avenida Pellegrini, like a paean to beauty and the aesthetic dreams of artists from around South America. It was donated by Rosa Tiscornia de Castagnino in memory of her son, Juan Bautista Castagnino, a local art critic and avant-garde painter. The collection includes more than 400 works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries; it serves as a history and repository for internationally-known visual artists from Rosario and the rest of the country. The museum has thirty-five rooms spread over three floors.
A Chance Passion
Located in the southern part of the city on the highway to Buenos Aires, the City Center de Rosario is a shrine to games of chance such as roulette and also offers access to the comfort of futuristic hotels. The venue’s charms are complemented by myriad dining options, with dishes from around the world hinting at every cuisine and every possible temptation. This is the largest and most modern site of this type in all of Latin America, with facilities that include a hotel, a casino, and a convention center that can host two thousand people.
The Heart of the City
Built in 1902 and beloved over decades of transformations, beautification, and reinvention, Rosario Independence Park exemplifies the face, soul, and identity of the city. Its location in the city center is defined by three large avenues: Avenida Pellegrini, Boulevard Oroño, and Avenida 27 de Febrero. Multi-faceted attractions include The Rose Garden (with fountains, sculptures, and several species of roses), the largest ceramic fountain in the world, the French Garden, the flower Calendar, the Rosario Racetrack (belonging to the Jockey Club), the Doctor Julio Marc Provincial Museum of History, the Jorge Newbery Municipal Stadium, the Children’s Garden, the Marcelo Bielsa Stadium, the home of the Club Atlético Provincial team, and the Sports and Fencing Club.