Past Cities

Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina

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Bariloche, officially known as San Carlos de Bariloche, is a city located in the province of Río Negro, Argentina. Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of the Andes Mountains and along the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche has a rich history that has been shaped by its unique geography and the political environment of the region. From its humble beginnings as a remote outpost to its emergence as a popular tourist destination, Bariloche has undergone significant transformations over the centuries.

The region of Bariloche has a long history of habitation, dating back thousands of years to the indigenous Mapuche people who inhabited the area. These early settlers were known for their nomadic lifestyle and their deep connection with the land. They revered the surrounding mountains and lakes as sacred places and held a strong spiritual connection with nature.

The arrival of European explorers in the 16th century marked the beginning of a new era for Bariloche. Spanish conquistadors ventured into the region, seeking to expand their empire and exploit the valuable resources of the area. However, the harsh and rugged terrain of the Andes Mountains made it difficult for the Europeans to establish permanent settlements, and Bariloche remained sparsely populated for centuries.

It was not until the late 19th century that significant development took place in Bariloche. In 1882, the Argentine government launched a military campaign known as the "Conquest of the Desert" aimed at subduing the indigenous populations in the region and opening up the land for European settlement. This campaign had a profound impact on the demographics and cultural landscape of Bariloche.

As a result of the Conquest of the Desert, large tracts of land were confiscated from the indigenous communities and redistributed to European immigrants. Swiss, German, and Italian settlers, among others, arrived in Bariloche, bringing with them their customs, traditions, and skills. They established farms, built infrastructure, and developed the local economy, primarily through agriculture and livestock farming.

The early 20th century witnessed a significant transformation in Bariloche's economy and its emergence as a tourist destination. The opening of the Patagonian Railway in 1905, connecting Bariloche with Buenos Aires, facilitated the influx of visitors to the region. The scenic beauty of the surrounding landscapes, with its snow-capped mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and lush forests, captivated the imagination of travelers and established Bariloche as a premier tourist spot.

Bariloche's development as a tourist destination was further propelled by the establishment of the National Park Nahuel Huapi in 1934. This protected area encompassed the stunning natural landscapes surrounding the city, attracting outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers from around the world. The tourism industry flourished, and hotels, restaurants, and recreational facilities were established to cater to the growing number of visitors.

However, Bariloche's growth and prosperity were not without challenges. The city experienced periods of political instability and economic crises that affected its development. The 20th century saw several military coups and authoritarian governments in Argentina, which impacted the country as a whole, including Bariloche. Economic downturns, inflation, and social unrest at times hindered the city's progress, causing fluctuations in its population and economy.

Despite these challenges, Bariloche managed to bounce back and adapt to changing circumstances. In recent decades, the city has diversified its economy beyond agriculture and tourism. It has become a hub for scientific research and technology, hosting prestigious institutions such as the Bariloche Atomic Center and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET).