FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Rosario: Rosario On The Rise

Apr 1, 2009
2009 / April 2009

Argentina’s economy managed to grow 7.1 percent in 2008 — lower than the country’s envious 8.8 percent average of the previous four years, but still a respectable number considering the financial skid of worldwide markets. In Rosario — a prosperous city of 1 million residents in Argentina’s agricultural heartland 180 miles northwest of Buenos Aires — real estate developers, local entrepreneurs and municipalities are still managing to raise capital for new commercial investment projects and city infrastructure improvements.

Situated along South America’s second-largest river, the Paraná, Rosario has benefited from its historic role as a major port city during Argentina’s colonial era, when ships and then trains transported grain and soybeans from Rosario and points north to the population centers near the capital, Buenos Aires. As population and industry in northern Argentina expanded, so did Rosario’s reputation as a trans-shipment center, and new products — paper pulp, petrochemicals and mining ore — passed through its extensive river port and rail facilities.

Rosario continues to prosper from its traditional river and rail traffic, but 21st-century industries — like electronics, recreation, education, scientific research and cultural tourism — have reinvigorated the city and bolstered its economy, even during economic downtimes. These expanding modern industries have led to new real estate development, including Puerto Norte, a private project that is converting a former 247-acre industrial harbor region into a mixed-use district of residential housing and retail businesses, with 42 percent of the project designated for green space. Several historic buildings, including old grain silos and railway stations, will be incorporated into the eco-friendly neighborhood.

Another new development underway in Rosario is Puerto de la Música, a gorgeous cultural complex designed by noted Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer which represents his first work in Argentina. The plans call for a 2,500-seat indoor theater, a music school, exhibition halls, a library and museum, several multimedia spaces and an outdoor performance space for more than 30,000 spectators. It is expected to be one of South America’s most iconic buildings when it opens in 2015.

Many of the historic buildings along Rosario’s lower riverfront promenade, known as the Costanera, have been restored into art galleries, inexpensive fish and parilla (barbecue) restaurants, cafés and shops. These formerly derelict warehouses and older rail facilities now house evening and weekend attractions for local Rosarinos and visitors, thanks to private and corporate initiatives and a longstanding municipal philosophy that provides residents with plenty of city parks and riverside recreational areas.

Rosario’s downtown is filled with beautiful, early-20thcentury office buildings, a number undergoing restoration after years of neglect. Although many city residents live in high-rise apartment towers scattered throughout the metropolitan area, weekends are the time to experience the numerous parks and river beaches that give Rosario — for all its sophistication and big-city amenities — the feel of a small village. It is common to see families picnicking along the Paraná, young couples strolling along the pedestrianfriendly Córdoba, and everyone from young singles to senior citizens joining impromptu tango parties in the middle of tree-lined streets. Many people bicycle through the new Cultural Complex Park of Spain, where Latin American cultural performances last long into the warm summer nights from November through March.

Rosario’s village ambience also comes from its diverse neighborhoods, each with its own identity and culture. In Pichincha, once known for its 19th-century brothels, the historic train station of Rosario Norte has been converted into the headquarters for the Department of Culture as well as a history museum, and numerous cafés and bars line the ba rrio’s narrow streets. Fisherton, Alberdi and Saladillo are communities that used to be outside the city limits but are now enchanting residential pockets where lovely mansions, country houses and family-run restaurants offer an eclectic mix of Rosario traditions.

The first South American casino opened in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1939, and Argentina’s gaming industry has been expanding ever since — now encompassing 135 casinos and game rooms with an estimated 45,000 slot machines, generating approximately $2.5 billion in revenue. Most of the larger casinos are in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, but the country’s newest and largest gaming venue will be the Casino de Rosario, a new entertainment and tourism center that will include 80 gaming tables, 2,000 slots, a 5-star hotel and conference center and three swimming pools. The complex is scheduled to open in late 2009.


LODGING

HOLIDAY INN ROSARIO
The recently renovated highrise features WiFi, meeting rooms and business center. Complimentary buffet breakfast, valet parking and airport transfers.$$
HOLIDAY INN ROSARIO
Dorrego 450
tel 54 341 410 0000
www.ichotels group.com

PRESIDENTE HOTEL
Downtown 4-star offers outdoor swimming pool, solarium, parking garage, property-wide WiFi, meeting rooms and hotel restaurant. Complimentary buffet breakfast.$$
PRESIDENTE HOTEL
Ave. Corrientes 919
tel 54 341 424 2789
www.solans.com

ROS TOWER HOTEL, SPA & CONVENTION CENTER
This deluxe business hotel is a block from the Paraná River and includes in-room WiFi and rooftop pool and patio.$$
ROS TOWER HOTEL, SPA & CONVENTION CENTER
Mitre 295
tel 54 341 529 9000
www.rostower.com.ar


DINING

BAJADA ESPAÑA
This riverbank restaurant in a historic railroad facility is known for its grilled beef and fish. $
BAJADA ESPAÑA
Calle Espana and Barrancas del Rio Paraná
tel 54 341 449 6801

EL PARRAL
This family-run restaurant is the place to go for superb cuts of tender Argentine beef. $
EL PARRAL
Sorrento 398
tel 54 341 455 8956

LOVA
A casual dinner-only spot with a patio under the trees serves trout, salmon, veal and potato-mushroom lasagna. $
LOVA
3 de Febrero 2417
tel 54 341 447 2774


DIVERSIONS

The first stop for almost everyone visiting Rosario is the National Flag Memorial (Santa Fe 581, tel 54 341 480 2238), a 210-foot tower in the historic section of the city next to the Paraná. It was here that the Argentine flag, created by Rosario native Manuel Belgrano, was raised for the first time. Several artifacts are displayed in various rooms below the tower, but the view from the top is worth the entrance fee of $1.50.

The city overflows with cultural attractions, especially theatrical venues, such as the stunning 1904 Teatro El Circulo (Laprida 1223–35, tel 54 341 424 5349) for opera and classical music performances, the Auditorio Fundación (Mitre 754, tel 54 341 448 1150) for music performances and educational workshops, and Teatro La Comedia (Mitre and Cortada Ricardone, tel 54 341 480 2597) for theatrical comedy.

The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Rosario (Boulevard Oroño and el Río Paraná, tel 54 341 480 4981), also known as MACRO, houses the world’s largest collection of modern Argentine art in several former concrete grain silos which are painted in bright colors. An exterior glass elevator provides views of the surrounding countryside near the Paraná River. It is physically connected to its sister museum, Museo de Bellas Artes Juan B. Castagnino, where numerous examples of European and Argentine fine art are displayed in this 1930s-era Art Deco building.

Swimming, boating, and fishing are available along lon g stretches of the Paraná River. If you have a rental car, take the 7.5-mile drive across the modern Rosario-Victoria Bridge, an engineering marvel which is really a series of bridges, viaducts and earth-filled sections that span the Paraná and several of its many islands and marshes. If you don’t have wheels, no problem — take a 10-minute motorboat ride from the city center to Entre Ríos province, where beachside bars, restaurants and tourist facilities make for an enjoyable afternoon.

Cuban revolutionary hero Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Rosario, but there is little to see of his early life here. A small plaque near La Plaza de Cooperación identifies the neighborhood as his place of birth, but you have to ask locals to pinpoint the original house, which is sometimes opened by the present owners for inquisitive visitors.


INFO TO GO

Aeropuerto Internacional Rosario Islas Malvinas (ROS) is 30 minutes from downtown by taxi ($8). You can rent a car at the airport, and some hotels provide shuttle service. The bus from Buenos Aires takes three hours ($15); the train, six hours ($10); high-speed rail lines are under construction.

 

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