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With perhaps the lowest profile of any South American capital outside the Guianas, Asunción is a sprawling, low-rise city on a bluff above the east bank of the Río Paraguay. Dating from the early 16th century, its central grid boasts only a handful of colonial remains, but there are quite a few remaining from the early 19th century when autocratic despots like José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, Carlos Antonio López and Francisco Solano López enforced a rigid isolationism exceeded only by contemporary North Korea. Because of the riverine access to the South Atlantic via the downstream Paraná, it remains the country's major port. The city's ...

With perhaps the lowest profile of any South American capital outside the Guianas, Asunción is a sprawling, low-rise city on a bluff above the east bank of the Río Paraguay. Dating from the early 16th century, its central grid boasts only a handful of colonial remains, but there are quite a few remaining from the early 19th century when autocratic despots like José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, Carlos Antonio López and Francisco Solano López enforced a rigid isolationism exceeded only by contemporary North Korea. Because of the riverine access to the South Atlantic via the downstream Paraná, it remains the country's major port. The city's nucleus is the central Plaza de los Héroes, whose Panteón de los Héroes is a memorial to the Lópezes and other military "heroes" who used the country as their personal fiefdom. Most public landmarks lie a few blocks north or northwest, most notably the Palacio de los López (the presidential palace) and, across the street, the 18th-century Casa Viola is now the Centro Cultural de la Ciudad, with a cluster of museums. Asunción can boast a fine ethnographic museum in the Museo Barbero, but its Museo del Barro is more noteworthy for its modern art collections and indigenous items. On the eastern outskirts of town, the botanical garden and its zoo were once the López family estate.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Southwestern Paraguay, Rio de la Plata Basin
  • Language: Spanish, Guaraní
  • Currency: Paraguayan Guarani
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Avoid the brutally hot and humid months of January and February.