Asuncion is a truly beautiful city, sprinkled with belle Èpoque buildings, colonial residences, shady plazas and intimate cafes with delicately decorated facades. These gems have managed to survive even as commercialism has increasingly brought fast-food joints and neon lights to the wide boulevards. The city is rapidly evolving, but it remains tied to its past.
Nothing symbolizes the country’s rich history better than the National Pantheon of Heroes. The memorial to Paraguay’s fallen war heroes was built under Francisco Solano Lopez in 1864 and loosely modeled after Paris’s Les Invalides. Construction halted when Lopez led the country into the devastating War of the Triple Alliance, but the memorial was finally finished in 1936. Lopez himself is interred there along with two of the country’s unknown soldiers. The haunting memorial is eerily quite and a pilgrimage place for every citizen that visits the capital.
The memorial is located at the Plaza de los Heroes, the very heart of the city. The busy plaza is a great place to watch locals under the shade of leafy trees, and local vendors sell everything from pottery to feather headdresses and knife sharpeners. During public holidays, the square is often taken over by folk-dance performances and live music shows, but it is lively even during regular days.
Paraguayans are proud of their history and especially so of the May 1811 revolution that resulted in independence from Spain. The revolution was born at the Casa de la Independencia, an 18th-century whitewashed house that served as a meeting place for the daring locals who plotted the break from Spain. Visitors can enter the house the same way the revolutionaries did ñ through the back alleyway.
One of the country’s greatest cultural symbols is the Manzana de la Rivera, an 18th- century city block that has been transformed into a cultural complex. Each of the nine houses contains galleries and museums that showcase Paraguay’s history and arts. The Viola House, for instance, contains the Museo Memoria de la Ciudad. The museum tells the story of Asuncion through graphics, texts, maps, interactive exhibits and artifacts.
Although the Manzana de la Rivera is the cultural center of Asuncion, nearly everyone’s favorite museum in the capital is the Museo del Barro. Although it is billed as a contemporary art museum, the most fascinating exhibits are those dedicated to indigenous and colonial art. The thought-provoking collection also features local crafts, pre-Columbian paintings and even political caricatures of Paraguayan leaders.
Asuncion is home to the National Congress, housed in one of the capital’s newest buildings. Built in 2002, the striking mirrored structure reflects the waters of the nearby river and houses a small museum dedicated to Paraguay’s cultural history.
Visitors can explore Paraguay’s rich natural world without ever leaving the capital at the Natural History Museum. The museum’s spectacular display of insects includes a butterfly with a nearly foot-long wingspan and other wonders from around the country.
Although Asuncion lacks the nightlife of Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires or other South and Latin American capitals, the city does know how to throw a good party on the weekends. If you look hard enough, you can find a party happening anywhere in the city on Friday and Saturday nights, but the best spots for celebrating the weekend with locals are in the San Roque and la Recoleta districts. There, you can dance in crowded underground clubs, sip on stiff drinks at swanky lounges or feast on a traditional meal at one of the many outstanding local restaurants.
Asuncion Geographical Location
Asuncion is the largest city of Paraguay and is located in the southwest on the left bank of the Paraguay River.
The population of Asuncion’s metropolitan area is 2,100,000.
The two official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Guarani.
Asuncion Predominant Religion
- 90% Roman Catholic
- 6% Protestant
- 2% Other
- 1% Christian
- 1% None
Paraguay heavily identifies with the Christian religion although religious freedom is provided for and there is no official religion.
The Guarani is the official currency of Paraguay.
Asuncion is hot and humid throughout the year with a long wet season lasting from October until April. The dry season is normally cooler and pleasant.
Asuncion Main Attractions
- Museo del Barro
- Casa de la Independencia
- Panteon Nacional de los Heroes
Other Attractions in Asuncion
- Plaza de los Héroes
- Casa Viola