Civic Center

What visitor to Bariloche has failed to have a picture taken at its Civic Center with huge Lake Nahuel Huapi in the background? With the Saint Bernard dogs? Or amidst laughter and amusing poses with their group of fellow students during a school trip?

The start of this beautiful attraction took place in 1934, when the then president of Nahuel Huapi National Park, Dr. Exequiel Bustillo, carried out important works for the area and architect Ernesto De Estrada executed the cutting-edge architectural project. It was shocking to get to the Civic Center of following the steep stairs that joins it to the Lake Nahuel Huapi waterfront. Even though we had repeated that ritual a thousand times, it did not cease to be unique and as magnificent as when we first discovered it. We had some time to tour around the area and understand where its magnetism comes from. The Civic Center is 70 years old and it continues to have a unique charm both in the winter and in the summer. The imposing buildings made of greenish stones and the large wooden doors surrounding a relatively small square correspond to the facilities of the Town Hall, the Provincial Police, Customs, Sarmiento Library and National Parks Administration. At the center of the square paved with olden slates, we found a pedestal with a statue of General Julio Roca on horseback. He bears an attitude of tiredness, as if advancing in the middle of the Conquest of the Desert. Those were hard days when the natives were displaced in order to give way to the colonization of the territory by white men.

  • The imposing buildings made of greenish stones

    The imposing buildings made of greenish stones

  • It was shocking

    It was shocking

  • General Julio Roca on horseback

    General Julio Roca on horseback

  • Saint Bernard dogs

    Saint Bernard dogs

  • The illuminated stone buildings

    The illuminated stone buildings

Along with him, several generations of Saint Bernard dogs have become the main attraction for tourists. Their sad faces have gone for a walk here and there, taken a nap or stretched their dozens of kilos on one of the square benches. Roca symbolizes the intimate history of this piece of Patagonian land and the Saint Bernard dogs, known for rescuing lost people, are part of the mountain lifestyle. They co-exist in complete harmony and no one can imagine one without the other at this traditional sight in Bariloche. Among public buildings, the Town Hall stands out due to its size and beauty. Its main wing ends in a tower from where an old clock accompanies the passing of time with its chimes. A gallery provides shelter from the winds and the cold temperatures. There is a mysterious presence in some small windows underneath the clock. Four wooden figures appear and greet each other when the clock strikes the hour. What were they? What did they symbolize? A detail of this square we had to ask about at the museum. At Dr. Francisco P. Moreno Museum of Patagonia, many of our questions were answered. It occupies a large space inside the National Parks Administration building and its creaking wooden floors protect valuable collections of Patagonian elements and history. After having surrounded the square heading for Mitre Street, a narrow winding street leads cars uphill. At this spot, two arches give an essentially European atmosphere to this corner of the set of buildings. The surroundings, with a pretty green park, complete the scene. In our opinion, the only thing that casts a shadow over the Civic Center is the Bariloche Center, a mass of concrete that does not fit in with the lordship of the former. We came back another day at night and, in spite of the cold, many people would walk about and take photographs in front of the illuminated stone buildings. We proved we were not the only ones to be fascinated by this place. The rhythms of the city have changed ever since the Civic Center was inaugurated. What still remains is the mystery that prevents us from avoiding the square every time we visit the City of Bariloche.

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Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Eduardo Epifanio

Recommendations The Tourist Office, where tourist information is provided almost all day long, may be visited at the Town Hall. The Culture Office offers cultural topics and exhibition rooms free of charge.
A reasonable price is charged to access Dr. Francisco P. Moreno Museum of Patagonia.

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