Welcome to Alta Gracia, a picturesque city located in the north-centre of the province of Córdoba, Argentina. Its name, which means High Grace, is a fitting description of the stunning natural beauty and rich history that can be found here. Built upon the Sierras Chicas, in a region that the Comechingón Indians used to call Paravachasca, Alta Gracia has about 43,000 inhabitants (2001 census [INDEC]).
In the 17th century, Alta Gracia was a large ranch (an estancia) operated by Jesuits. It had been first owned in 1588 by Don Juan Nieto who began the colonization of the area. Under the terms of his encomienda, Nieto began promoting the building of houses, ranches and stone pens. The Jesuits used Alta Gracia, along with other ranches, including Colonia Caroya, Jesús María, Santa Catalina, La Candelaria, and San Ignacio de los Ejercicios, to support the Collegium Maximum or Colegio Máximo, one of Argentina’s first universities (Universitas Cortuba Tucumanæ) today: Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. Together with other educational institutes, it is now part of the Manzana Jesuítica (Jesuit Block), an important center in Córdoba City. The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba were named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Owners of the Estancia Alta Gracia:
– Don Juan Nieto, 1588
– Alonso Nieto de Herrera, who named it after Nuestra Señora de Alta Gracia
– The Society of Jesus (donated to them by Alonso Nieto)
– Santiago de Liniers, 1810, who lived there for about 5 months
– José Manuel Solares, 1868 (last owner; in his will he converted the estancia to a village, to be called La Merced. He divided the land into plots to give to his employees. The condition was that they would keep the Tajamar and continue with veneration of the Virgin, known as Nuestra Señora de la Merced – Our Lady of Merced.)
September 24 is a feast day in Alta Gracia, in honor of the Virgin.
– The museum of Santiago de Liniers.
– El Tajamar, a man-made lake.
– El Obraje, a workshop where the Jesuits taught many Indians the different crafts.
– The Sierras Hotel, which John F. Kennedy has visited.
– A house where revolutionary Che Guevara used to live, now a museum.
– Manuel de Fallas Museum.
– Gabriel Dubois Art Museum.
– Railroad outdoor museum.
– Lourdes Virgins Sanctuary: a replica of the original in the Pyrenees (France).
– Public Clock Tower: 350th Anniversary of Alta Gracia Monument, now an information office.
– Manuel de Falla, Spanish musician and composer, lived in Alta Gracia from 1942 until his death.
– Ernesto Che Guevara, spent 12 years in Alta Gracia, from 1932 till 1944, when he moved to Buenos Aires to be a doctor. There is a museum in the place where he lived.
– Enrique Larreta, writer.
– Belisario Roldán, writer.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply enjoying the natural beauty of Argentina, Alta Gracia has something for everyone. Come and experience the charm and grace of this hidden gem for yourself!