On Plaza Alsina’s southwest side, the entire block bounded by Yrigoyen, Colón, Rivadavia, and Alvaro Barros is a national historical monument dating from the 1880s, when the Salesian order installed itself here. Among its works were the Vicariato Apostólico de la Patagonia Septentrional (Vicarage of Southern Patagonia, 1883–1897), with its neo-Renaissance brick facade and tower.
For many years, the structure served as the Colegio San Francisco de Sales (a boys’ school) and an orphanage. Since 1975, it has been the Centro Histórico Cultural Salesiano, comprising two separate museums: the Museo Salesiano Cardenal Cagliero (Rivadavia 34, tel. 02920/15-30-8671, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 7–9 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., free), presenting the Salesian viewpoint on Patagonian evangelization, and the Museo Tecnológico del Agua y del Suelo (Colón 498, 1st floor, tel. 02920/42-6096, www.museo dpa.blogspot.com, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Tues. and Fri., 10 a.m.–noon and 2–6 p.m. Wed.–Thurs., free), focusing on irrigation.
Part of the same complex but facing Plaza Alsina, the Catedral de la Merced (1912) replaced an earlier church that came down after the 1899 flood; alongside it, the neoclassical Obispado de Viedma (Bishopric of Viedma, 1945) replaced the Hospital de San José.
Key public buildings cluster around Plaza San Martín, including the Casa de Gobierno (Government House) and the dignified Residencia del Gobernador (Governor’s Residence). On the north side, the Museo Gobernador Eugenio Tello (San Martín 262, tel. 0290/42-5900, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 4–6 p.m. Sat. winter, 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. and 5–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 5–7 p.m. Sat. the rest of the year, free) stresses archaeology and secular history.
At 5 p.m. Thursday–Sunday (Sunday only May–December) the catamaran Curru Leuvu II (tel. 02920/15-40-8599) offers 1.5-hour river excursions (US$8 adults, US$1.50 children age 12 and under) from the Muelle de Lanchas at the foot of 25 de Mayo.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition