Encarnacion, Paraguay - Polarsteps
Encarnación, Paraguay, has a population of 140,000, but the metropolitan area is around 226,000, and if you include Posadas, Argentina, directly across the river, the population is about a half-million. Encarnación is located at the very south tip of Paraguay and is directly across the river from Posadas, Argentina. There's a bridge crossing the border and the bridge includes a track for a train that runs between the two cities. The line of cars can be hours long, but the wait to cross by train is minutes.
Encarnación was founded in March 1615, by the Jesuit an Roque González de Santa Cruz. San Roque was living in the city of Asunció as a missionary, and in 1615 he talked to his superiors in the church about founding a church in the area of Itapúa, to the south, along the Paraná River. He was given the go-ahead and founded a mission called Our Lady of the Encarnación de Itapúa. In April 1843, the town's name was changed to Villa Encarnación. In the years following the temple was disassembled and the timber was used to build a bridge. In 1848, the governors of Encarnación banned all the native Guaraní people from the city and sent them away to a town now called Carmen del Paraná. In the early 1900s, the city experienced much growth and in 1907 was changed from Villa (village) to a city. The railroad arrived in 1913, and the first Carnaval commenced in 1916. There was also a big influx of Italian immigrants to the city. In 1926, the city's worst natural disaster occurred - a cyclone, which formed over the Paraná River. It then hit the city and caused more than 300 deaths. The international bridge was finally built between Encarnación and Posadas, Argentina, in 1990. On May 18, 1998, Pope John Paul II visited Encarnación, and this was also the first time any Pope visited Paraguay. From the early 2000s to the early 2010s, the city spent about US$1 billion with a massive restructuring. They raised the level of the river, moved many people to higher neighborhoods, relocated the commercial area, built an airport, a new port, two nice beaches and roads that almost circle the city with linear parks with cycling and jogging lanes and wide walking area (see the pics in the photo album), many streets were repaired and paved. They also built a new civic center, sanitary landfill, sewers and drinking water networks, an effluent treatment plant, and other public works. Encarnación receives more than half a million tourists every year. Because the city is almost surrounded by water it is connected to the nearby lands by seven bridges.
So, my impressions: I like Encarnación. The city is clean, amiable, and a great place to walk, both in the center and virtually all around the city in the parks along the rivers. It's a beautiful place, obviously well cared for by the city government. Also, and this is important to me and anyone with a basic level of Spanish - here they speak Spanish, not the Spanish-Guaraní mix that is used in the cities north of here (across the central part of the country). The city center is well laid out like a checkerboard. The neighborhoods are a bit less so as they include many green spaces, parks, markets, and so forth. The central plaza is very nice, possibly the prettiest I've seen yet in all of my journey. It includes a children's play area, a water feature with a waterfall and a short stream to a pond, the central monument, and many trees and benches. At least one of the trees is estimated to be 220 years old. In the neighborhood called San Pedro is a stairway (pics in the photo album) that is also a work of art that cost the city (at today's exchange rate) US$55,400. There is a structure at the riverside that looks like a silo but is the 1940 San José flour mill (see pics in the photo album). In the photo album, you can see pics of a tall chimney that was built in 1930 and was part of a much larger factory, all of which no longer exists. You can also find pics of the railroad station, the one you see is a newly built exact replica of the original building. This city has a lot of interesting places to visit, too much to write about. I am adding Encarnación to my top 10 list of places for a new hometown.
My South America Journey