USHUAIA - TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Singularly picturesque, with its old-fashioned wood and metal houses, with steeply-sloping metal roofing to avoid accumulation of snow, Ushuaia reflects strong links with the past in its urban layout and architectural design.
With a past history marked by European navigators, indian headhunters, gold diggers and a notorious penitentiary, today's city affords visitors different ways of accessing these historical facts. Ushuaia is not only a small city at the "end of the world", or a beautiful wind-protected haven for ships, Ushuaia is nature and adventure in every sense.
Its whimsical topography has generated a city that blends vivid colors with terracing accompanying the outline of the Andes mountains, providing a silhouetted backdrop against the sky, and offering visitors a scenario of impressive landscapes, with a deep-sea port and pristine beauty spots within minutes of the city center.
The city possesses excellent hotel and gastronomy infrastructure, with a gourmet selection of traditional Fueguian crab, black hake, cod, bream and exquisite shellfish, and last but not least the famous cross-staked Patagonian mutton barbecue.
Its population and their origins, mystique and culture are visible everywhere in dance, pictorial art, ceramics, photography, crafts and the theater; activities which all take place in cultural centers or showplaces.
In the Old Downtown Area, preserving the original layout of the city's streets, many examples of original churches, buildings, monuments and parks are found:
Original residence of the Pastoriza family
This building belonged to the family of Saturnino Pastoriza, who arrived from the city of Vigo (Galicia, Spain) in Ushuaia, to work in a sardine cannery. The industrial venture fell through, but the Pastoriza family settled in the city. The building was erected in 1918. Maipú 91.
Original residence of the Peña family
This picturesque house, along with others dotted around the city, was built by Lisandro Garcia in 1928. It is a solid building with an attractive roof. Part of the building projects from the center of the façade, serving as an entrance hall.
This building was an important one in the city, housing law courts for Justices of the Peace and the Customs offices.
In 1955 it was bought by the Peña family. Maipú 263.
Original residence of the Cortés family ("Volver" Restaurant)
This was built at the beginning of the twentieth century by Ramón Cortés. He was the second commander of the Penitentiary and Ushuaia's first Police Chief. He married María Sánchez Caballero, the city's first schoolteacher. As from the closing down of the Penitentiary in 1947, it was occupied by some of the released inmates. Another resident of this house (up to 1985) was Doña Rafaela Ishton, one of the last surviving Ona women. In 1990 a well--known restaurant by the name of "Volver" took up occupation of these premises. Maipú 37.
Original residence of the Blanco family
Built for Mr. Blanco, the accountant of the Penitentiary, by its inmates, it was called "Villa Julieta", after his daughter. Its original location was on the corner of Gobernador Deloqui and Juana Fadul streets. Its porch, sheltered by an arched roof and its triangular upper windows are some unusual features of Fueguian early 20th. Century architecture. It was sold on several occasions until the Chamber of Ushuaian Architects finally bought it.
Original residence of the Leviñanco family
Typically Fueguian in architecture, this old mansion dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century. It is notable for its 4-sloped roof with steeply dropping eaves. Its address is Gobernador Paz 56.
Original residence of the Calderón family
This is another typical family home featuring wind shielding on the roof and side hall against the strong southern winds. Gobernador Deloqui 402.
Original residence of the Fadul family
This attractive house was built by the Fadul family, originally from Lebanon, and settlers in 1913. The rectangularly planned house has a two--sloped roof and three entrances; the two side ones being framed by windows to let in more natural light, and the main entrance topped by a first-floor bow window. Juana Fadul 156.
Original residence of the Fique family
Don Luis Fique Sr. arrived in 1884 with Comandante Laserre's expedition. Thus he became the first Argentine to settle in Ushuaia. The Fique family ran a general store with its own docking facility - the most important one at the time. This family also owned land in Ambarino Island (Chile) and in the area of Olivia River (Argentina), with a sawmill producing building planks. San Martín and Belgrano.
Original residence of the Masciochi family
It was built in 1892 by an Italian employee of the Ushuaia Penitentiary who had arrived to work in the Puerto Brown sawmill. San Martín 857.
Original residence of the Otero family
This belonged to the Spaniard Don Perfecto Celso Otero, who arrived in the city of Buenos Aires in 1915. Six years later, having married María Lucilda Saldivia Torres, he traveled to Ushuaia. Today's family residence, used as a home since 1940, at the beginning housed a shellfish preserves establishment. Maipú and Piedra Buena streets.
"Casa Bebán" Exhibition Center
This building, bought prefabricated from Sweden by catalog, was built between 1911 and 1913 by Don Tomás Fortunato Bebán, and was the premises of the Banco de la Nación Argentina (Argentine National Bank) until 1915. Later, in 1963, it became the Bebán family home, and was closed down when its original owners died. When it reopened it housed a clinic and as from 1976 a hotel called ''Las Goletas''. Later it was threatened with demolition, but the family who owned it donated the premises to the local Municipality. Thereupon it was disassembled, repaired and relocated on the "Paseo Los Antiguos Pobladores'' (First Inhabitants Mall), and inaugurated on November 4 1994. Currently it is a showplace for cultural events and exhibits. Maipú and Plüschow.
Legislatura Provincial (Provincial Legislature)
This is an imposing building facing the Civic Center. It used to be the official residence of Governor Pedro Godoy (1894), the third Fueguian governor. In 1920, after a fire that destroyed the first Government House, it was repaired and expanded to house the government. In 1976, it was transferred to its current premises, while this building was occupied by the Central Police Office. Currently it is the seat of the Provincial Legislature and was declared a National Historical Monument in 1983. Maipú 465
"El Crucero Gallego" (The Galician Cruiser)
This is a sculpture in natural granite from Galicia (Spain). It is around 6 ½ meters high and weighs over two tons. Its creators belong to the "Escuela de Canteiros de Pontevedra". It was donated to the city of Ushuaia by the members of the local Galician Center.
Monument to the Anglican Missionaries
In 1869 the British subject Waite Stirling was the first white European who managed to live among the aboriginal natives of Tierra del Fuego and establish a religious mission there.
The monument signals the place where he built his first dwelling with his own hands. This was known as "Casa Stirling" or "Casa de Hierro" (Stirling House or the Iron House). The mission continued until 1907. After that, the British bishop Stirling lived with the Bridges and Lawrence families, that arrived in 1871 and 1873, respectively, these being the first non--native inhabitants of the Fueguian archipelago.
Malvinas Islands Monument
Facing the position of the Malvinas Archipelago, this monument was inaugurated on April 2nd 1994 to honor "Veterans' Day" and the soldiers fallen in the Malvinas War (1982), when Argentine and British forces fought in the South Atlantic.
It was declared a National Historical Monument and can be seen at the corner of Maipú and Patagonia streets.
SQUARES AND CHURCHES
25 de Mayo Square
Its center features a sculpture entitled "Ona al Acecho" (the Stalking Ona). A few meters away, one may find the so-called "Time Capsule", consisting of a steel container with six laser video disks in it with copies of a 1992 television show including messages from hundreds of Argentines. On the outside, there is an inscription saying "do not open until October 2nd 2492". At one end of the Square are the busts of Augusto Laserre (Commander of the South Atlantic Expeditionary Forces Division of the Argentine Navy); José de San Martín (Army General of the Grenadier Hussars and Argentine patriot, Liberator of South America); and Manuel Belgrano (General of the Northern Army, member of the first National Government and creator of the Argentine flag). Maipú and 25 de Mayo.
12th October Square or Civic Square and Obelisk
Here stands the Obelisk signaling the historical first raising of the Argentine National Flag in Tierra del Fuego. The expedition commanded by Commodore Augusto Laserre, arriving from De los Estados Island, creates the Naval Sub-Prefecture on October 12th 1884, with the purpose of reaffirming the Argentine sovereignty of this area. This event gives the Square its name and its date is the city's founding anniversary. Maipú and Laserre.
Paseo del Centenario (Centenario Mall)
The focal point of this Mall is the "Monument to the Centenary of the Founding of the City". The multi-directional spikes on this monument represent groups of immigrants hailing from different locations and arriving at this southerly point in different eras. The fountain symbolically represents the Pipo and Olivia rivers. This Mall is surrounded by natural greenery and recreational facilities. Panorama Vantage Point, San Martín and Gobernador Paz. Free access.
Municipal Tourist Office
The building boasts a picturesque façade of corrugated steel sheets that is one of the features identifying its origins. It also has a 4-sloped roof, and a stained glass rosette window in front to let daylight in. Its entrance features a "cold hall", another typically Fueguian architectural device. San Martín 674.
Ushuaia City Hall
Also known as the "Stone House" because its walls are made of this material. Although its external façade was altered, it was first built in 1903 by order of Don Victorio Llorente, mayor of the Relapsing Prisoners' Jail at the time in Ushuaia. San Martín 660.
"Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas" (Southern Scientific Research Center)
This Research Center is located at the extreme southwestern tip of Ushuaia Bay. Although not open to the general public, any scientist visiting the city may arrange a visit by calling Tel. (0901) 422278 / 422310. In this major research facility, researchers study climate, marine biology, geology, glaciology, hydrology, flora, fauna, anthropology and the archaeology of Tierra del Fuego and its surroundings.
Gendarmería Nacional Square - Monument to Martín Güemes
In this square in Maipú street, is located the bronze bust of Gral. Martín Miguel de Güemes, who acts as custodian of the Square and patron of the Argentine Border Guard Service. A series of decreasing arches create a horizontal and vertical perspective leading to a visual "vanishing point" coinciding with the XXVI Border Marker Post. Finally, the National Flag creates a backdrop to the perspective, emerging from a platform placed on solid ground.
Luis Fique Square
This square contains the bust of prefect Luis Fique, placed at the entry point of the passageway named after him that crosses the deepest part of Ushuaia Bay. Fique (1849-1923) is considered to be an Argentine pioneer. He arrived in Ushuaia in 1884 with the expedition of Commodore Augusto Laserre. Maipú and Pasaje Luis Fique.
Ushuaia's Old Church
Consecrated on December 24 1898, the new parish is created only in 1949. So the so-called Old Church ceases to function and almost totally deteriorates with time until its reconstruction begins in 1997, and it is inaugurated again on December 24 1998. The building is one unit covered by a two-slope roof, with an (original) nave measuring about six by eighteen meters, while its 2 ½ meter (approx.) belfry was built a century after the original building. Maipú 830.
Our Lady of Mercy Church
This replaced the old church on Maipú 900, which was the first Catholic parish founded by Salesian missionaries in 1898. Built of wood and steel sheeting, it was remodeled and renewed at its centenary. The new church was built in 1942 with help from the whole city on a lot donated by the Fique family. The church tower clock began functioning in 1949 and the church and parish house were inaugurated then. The church measures approx. 25 m long by 10 wide, with a maximum height of 11 m., and is rounded off with a presbytery and a belfry. San Martín and Don Bosco.