SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
WHAT TO VISIT
San Martín de los Andes was always famous for promoting its natural landscapes that are typical of the Andean area. However, it has 105 years of history behind it that tells us, especially through its architecture all about the materials used and nature of its inhabitants as well as their connections with their environment.
To start a tour of the urban center where the first settlers made their homes, and set up their stores and other businesses, we should pause an instant to scan those details that often are overlooked by residents and visitors alike.
Worth visiting are the Mirador Bandurrias lookout, near the city on the road to the Hua-Hum International Pass, lakes Lolog, Curruhué Chico, Curruhué Grande and Paimún, as well as the thermal springs of Lahuen-Co, also known as "Baños de Epulafquen", 6 kilometers from the fishing port on the shores of Lake Epulafquen.
San Martín was founded by a mostly immigrant population, and its architecture reflects this fact of trans-culturalism. With their baggage, they brought along their building techniques and styles.
The newborn village quickly filled with wooden buildings, because the surrounding woods offered large quantities of high quality building materials. The village began to acquire a typical mountain-village personality.
This did not remain unnoticed by its visitors, who traditionally appreciated the "warmth" and "beauty" of its architecture. One example is the Chidiak family residence, located on the corner of Gral. Roca and Sarmiento, and built in raulí wood. The same happened with the public buildings that today are its treasured architectural heritage.
The buildings of each of the period styles blended well with the rest of the urban environment, reflecting the commitment that the population of San Martín de los Andes accepted of achieving harmonious growth for their city, while maintaining a local architectural style, enhancing its cultural legacy and, essentially, respecting the natural environment.
San Martín square is the city's historical hub, where all civic activity takes place and the other important events, such as the Trabún, an arts festival attracting musicians and different expressions of culture in December each year, are held.
Around it are found on a year-round basis local craftsmen's display stands and a store selling fine local food products, fruit preserves, dried wildflowers, etc.
Surrounding this square, and in the environs, are located the main public buildings, many of them of considerable historical and architectural value:
The nerve center of the city is its Centro Cívico (Civic Center), located around Plaza San Martín. There one will find the Lanín National Park Administration, the Municipality (Town Hall), the Post Office and some banks. The most interesting buildings to visit in the city are the "Museo Municipal Primeros Pobladores" (Museum of the First Settlers) and the "Museo Privado de Ciencias Naturales" (Private Natural Science Museum).
Built in 1931 by Luis Tossi, this simply designed building housed the First San Martín de los Andes Development Committee, later the municipal authorities and, after the inauguration of the current Municipality building, it was left vacant. In 1959 it was bodily removed to the Municipal Deposit of Building Materials and was there used as a warehouse, lodging and canteen for workmen. However, it was reinstated in its original location to be used as a museum in 1988. The present municipal building is on its left.
As from September 1996 this museum is permanently open to the public with its own staff.
Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: noon to 9 p.m.
SAN JOSE THEATER
This was the area's first chapel, built by Salesian missionaries. The original cypress roof tiles can still be seen under its modern roofing.
In1982 it was bought by the Municipality to be reconditioned and used as a theater house. It is also the headquarters of the local Dirección Municipal de Cultura (Municipal Cultural Committee).
On April 30, 2000 the theater's main auditorium was named "Jorge Villalba" after a local theater patron.
HOLL FAMILY RESIDENCE
Built in1938 by contractor Guillermo Alder for Ricardo and Selfora Höll, it was later sold to a Danish couple who turned it into the Copenhagen Residential Hotel. In 1965 the property was bought by Pablo Gingins and his wife María Obeid, and was used as their home.
It is simple and symmetrical design, prominently featuring the skylight and doorway. It is a good example of restoration technique, because the original building was extended without changing its basic features.
CASTILLO FAMILY RESIDENCE
This building was set up in 1923 by Luis Tossi, on orders from Rodolfo Castillo, married to Aurora Lisazo, as a home for the Carlos Rameri family. Castillo, owner of half the block, built a new home for the Rameri family, taking over the house. Then he rented it to Dr. Minujín, who accidentally almost burnt it to the ground in a fire caused by his attempt to light a barbecue with gasoline. However, the owner rebuilt it almost immediately.
Later, it was rented for several years by the National Customs Administration, and finally sold in 1943 to the Compañía General de Construcciones, that held it for 10 years, after which it was bought back by the son of the original owner, then deceased.
RAGUSI FAMILY RESIDENCE
This house was built around 1930 by Antonio Ragusi, one of the 9 children of Domingo Ragusi and Josefa Proto. Antonio lived there with his family until he built a larger house, leaving the original one as a rented lodging for bachelor schoolteachers. In1950 it was rented to the National Parks Club, and their social headquarters was set up there, attended by Juan José Trevisán. Members of the local community used it as a gathering place for chats, card games, barbecues or simply to have a glass of wine in good company. When the premises were sold, Rodolfo Castillo bought the house, moving it to its present location in 1965. For the purpose, it was split into two parts, fixed onto a firm platform, and rolled on logs to its new position with the aid of road-building equipment. Once set up, it was rented to its first tenant, Mariano Karzminchuk.
FORMER RESIDENCE OF THE CHIDIAK FAMILY
Built in 1920 by Luis Tossi at the request of Manuel Chidiak, it was totally constructed with wood brought from Hua Hum. It presents details that remind one of Dutch architecture. When the Roca y Elordi residence (Ferretería de Caso) was built, the family moved to new quarters. As from that date, it was occupied successively by different families. In 1991 it was refurbished as a restaurant and tea house by José Pablo De Leone, who did the first historical restoration of the home. Later, an extension was made, modifying the original building.
FORMER HOTEL LACAR
Approximately in 1910 Timoteo Ponce, a Chilean, had this building erected. From the start it operated as a hotel. Some years before 1941 it belonged to a Mr. Schroeder, who sold it that year to a Mr. Carlos Emilio Weber, the present owner's father.
The hotel grew to 40 rooms and 80 beds in capacity. The first tourists in the area and local and foreign VIP visitors were lodged there. For many years the Lácar hotel was the most important building for social activities in the area, hosting cinema shows, festivities, dances, celebrations, weddings and banquets, etc.
On March 31, 1986 it ceased to function as a hotel, and all the ground floor rooms facing the street were turned into stores.
FORMER NATIONAL BANK BUILDING
Dr. Rodolfo Köessler had this building constructed in 1930 to be rented by the Banco de la Nación Argentina, this being its first premises at this location. Construction was carried out by Pravato, one of the first contractors to operate in this area, and was finished in 1931. In 1967 the Bank moved to its own premises facing Plaza San Martín.
Nº 5 SCHOOL BUILDING
The records state that School N° 5 started functioning on October 5, 1901 thanks to Celestino Pérez, the head of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. It was located until 1904 in the Regiment itself, and then was taken over by the Third Section of Territorial Schools, based in Chos Malal city. At first it was named the Coeducational Children's School and took its present name of National School N°5 in 1906.
The school occupied a series of different buildings. At the request of the population, the Ministry of Public Works gave the National Parks Administration the job of planning and building the current premises, built by the Compañía General de Construcciones, and inaugurated in September 1948.
FERRETERIA CASO (CASO HARDWARE STORE)
This is an interesting brick building, whose general design is influenced by the local (British-style) railway architecture. Originally, a wood house belonging to Enrique Chidiak occupied this spot. Later, Manuel Chidiak had the present building set up by Luis Tossi. The building was inaugurated in 1938, as a general store. In the mid-60's Caso y Naiman rent it to set up a hardware store.
As from the moment the town was "laid out" in 1898, this area was earmarked as a public plaza, although it was used for some years as a football field (from 1929 to 1934).
In 1936 it was turned into a park, populated with mostly exotic species, such as pines and sequoias, as well as some native ones, such as araucaria and maitén in the surrounding area. Its present appearance was acquired after it was remodeled in 1994, with the addition of the bandstand, the crafts shop, children's games and the central fountain. It is surrounded by buildings reflecting the different stages in the development of the local style of architecture of San Martín de los Andes.
This is a simple, short and relaxing circuit. All one has to do is take a stroll around this attractive square located between San Martín avenue and Sarmiento, General Roca and Elordi streets.
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San Martin de los Andes
- The City,
Holl & Castillo
Chidiak & Ragusi
San Martin de los Andes
Adventure Travel in San Martin de los Andes
San Martin de los Andes
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How To Get There -
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San Martin de los Andes
|Hotels in San Martin de los Andes
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