Tourist Guide

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Historical Tourism

The historical and cultural circuit recalls the first 20 years of the city in the so-called “Old Town”
where it was founded.
This tourist circuit has its epicentre in the site where Colonel Lorenzo Vintter founded Fuerte
General Roca on September 1st, 1879 by order of The Ministry of War Julio Argentino Roca.
This site was known by natives as Fisque Menuco (deep water), a warning anyone must thank.
In the “Old Town” you can learn the history of the Colegio San Miguel (San Miguel School);
Santuario María Auxiliadora (María Auxiliadora Sanctuary), the first church; the old building of
the Colegio María Auxiliadora (María Auxiliadora School), the first school; the Historical Column
in Plaza Villegas (Villegas Square); the old Municipal Council, the Antigua Comandancia (Old
Command); and the Padre Alejandro Stefenelli train estation.
Colegio San Miguel (San Miguel School)
A year before the flood, the Colegio San Miguel was still under construction, under the
supervision of Father Alejandro Stefenelli, a Salesian who arrived in the region on July 5th, 1889.
Back then, General Roca only had 900 inhabitants and Stefenelli was a forerunner in the field of
population and economic development. His schools became a refuge for male orphans who
found education in its workshops and foster homes.
At the moment of the flood, the Colegio San Miguel had not been finished. However the
construction was strong enough to endure the turbulent waters that left their mark at a height of
1.5 m and a crack in the north eastern corner of the building.
How to get there: From General Roca downtown towards the City of Villa Regina, you must
cross the east access at Mendoza Street and drive 3 km. Further on, you will find the school on
your right, in the junction of Route 22 and the road into Stefenelli town.
Santuario María Auxiliadora (María Auxiliadora Sanctuary)
Although the project, under the supervision of Architect Ana María Fiadino, for the building of
the Sanctuary had been approved in 1982, it was finally inaugurated on May 24th, 1992. The
Sanctuary houses a beautifully carved statue of the Virgin.
The pioneer’s history is present again in the delicate statue of Saint Michael Archangel which is
placed where Father Stefenelli built the first parish church in Roca and the region. The church
was destroyed by the flood but its foundations still remain.
In the same site there is a marker indicating the place where the priest ordered the construction
of the first building for the famous school. Erected out of common bricks and adobe bricks, the
school sat in the northern part of plot 154 and was authorized to initiate activities in 1890. Back
then, it hosted 45 pupils and had a school, an orphanage with kitchen, dorms and a yard.
A year after its inauguration, the first building for the Colegio María Auxiliadora was erected in
the western part of the site. The nuns who arrived on March 6th, 1891, began running the
school. The poorly-built construction served as shelter and school for the town’s young ladies,
and the orphans and poor of the region received protection, food and clothing. This building
could not withstand the Negro river’s fury.
How to get there: From Roca’s downtown towards the City of Villa Regina, you must cross the
east access at Mendoza Street and drive 3 km. Further on, you will find the Sanctuary on your
right, in the junction of Route 22 and the road into Stefenelli town.
“Old Town” Downtonwn
Reaching the river shoreline, you will find the first old town. That’s why the majority of historical
references that belong to this circuit can be found there. One of these references is the site
where the first school was built. In this lot, the house of General Conrado Villegas was
constructed in 1880. Before leaving for Paris, where he died in 1884, Villegas gave it out to be
used as a school. It was a big brick building with two ample wings: one for girls, the other for
boys.
How to get there: From Roca’s downtown and going along Route 22 towards the City of Villa
Regina, cross Mendoza Street access and continue 3 km. Turn right on Pellegrini Street, drive
two blocks and turn right again on Quinquela Martín Street. Continue one more block and on the
left you will find the old town.
Plaza Villegas (Villegas Square) and Columna Histórica (Historical Column)
On April 6th, 1888, the City Council passed a resolution stating that the square situated opposite
the II Cavalry Mounted Regiment should be named after General Villegas. The text of the
resolution read “being the moral duty of peoples to remember as a sign of gratitude the names
of those who contributed to the welfare of the country”, it was thereby resolved to name the
square after the General “to pay homage to the services General Villegas provided, especially in
the border”.
The Columna Histórica is placed in the centre of the square and was built by the end of 1881,
being at that time the first national monument erected in Patagonia. On October 12th 1881, a
plaque was placed on its base pronouncing the Fuerte General Roca, founded on September
1st, 1879 by Colonel Lorenzo Vintter as the Town of General Roca.
The Column is 18 m. high and was intended to hold the bust of General Julio A. Roca. But the
former President himself asked the bust of General Villegas to be erected instead. And so it was
done. Soon after this, there was a flood and even though the waters reached a height of 1.70
meters the monument was not damaged. The Town Hall was built in front of the square. On July
2nd, 1887, the first municipal government was elected. In the II Brigade, Colonel Victoriano
Rodríguez, on behalf of the Governor of the territory, took oath to the members of the First
Council.
How to get there: From Roca’s downtown and going along Route 22 towards Villa Regina City,
cross Mendoza Street access and continue 3 km. Turn right on Pellegrini Street, drive for two
blocks and turn right again on Quinquela Martín Street. Continue one more block and on the left
you will find the square and the Column.
Antigua Comandancia (Old Command)
On June 8th, 1879, Colonel Lorenzo Vintter arrived at a spot called Fisque Menuco. He was in
charge of the V Horse Mounted Cavalry. In this place, the building of II Brigade of the
Expeditionary Army was built and began operations. It was a delicately ornamented façade
building with a tower. Official reports say that it probably had weak foundations since it was
completely destroyed by the 1899 flood.
How to get there: From Roca’s downtown and going along Route 22 towards Villa Regina City,
cross Mendoza Street access and drive on 3 km. Turn right on Pellegrini Street, drive four
blocks and turn right again into L. Lugones Street. Two blocks ahead on your left, you will find
the Comandancia.
“Los Perales” Train Station
Historical records indicate that the opening ceremony was due on June 1st, 1899. It was the
proper occasion for the formal birth of the railway lines joining General Roca with Bahía Blanca.
Three long trains formed the convoy headed by President Julio A. Roca. The ceremony was
due to be held in the new station. But the river´s overflow that seemed to announce the big flood
that would occur a month and a half later prevented the delegation from reaching General Roca.
So it was postponed for a couple of days.
Fortunately, the building was not damaged by the flood because of its location further to the
north. In fact, it still maintains its original appearance.
The station was named “Los Perales” but on November 27th, 1933 its name was changed to
Alejandro Stefenelli.
How to get there: From Roca’s downtown, take Rochdale Street eastward. After 2 km you will
reach Vintter Street. On the left side of the street, you will find the Station.
Back in the city’s downtown area, there are two destinations you cannot miss if you want to
know more about General Roca.
Museo Municipal Lorenzo Vintter (Lorenzo Vintter Municipal Museum)
The Historical Museum was founded under the initiative of the teacher Manuel José Félix
Arenaza together with a group of neighbours. They then decided to honour the city’s founder,
Lorenzo Vintter, by naming the museum after him.
The museum first occupied a place within the Julio Argentino Roca Library and then moved to
the old municipal building, located in 1650 España Street. Finally, it found its permanent location
in the building that once belonged to the Infant’s Patronage so it is now located on Buenos Aires
Street at the intersection with Artigas Street.
The museum was run by the Government of Río Negro until the year 2007. Because of the
critical condition the building was in, the city’s Town Hall decided to take over the administration
in order to make a massive reconstruction.
The museum’s main objective is to preserve and encourage love and respect for our past
traditions. It keeps a collection of more than 800 pieces and also contains an important
inventory of documents, books and photos.
The museum’s main room is divided into four different sectors:
– The Native Peoples sector
– The Conquest of the Desert sector
– The Immigrants and First Colonists sector
– The Argentinian traditionalist culture sector
In each of these sectors you will observe the pieces, photos and documents which are most
representative of the city’s and the region’s past, dating back to the 19th century. Some of the
pieces on display in the sector devoted to the Native Peoples, mainly the Mapuche and
Tehuelche cultures, have been considered by them as having a considerable historical value.
Outside the building, in the grounds surrounding the museum, very important machinery is on
display. There is a vast amount of machines for agricultural use like for example plows, sulphur
remover machines, alfalfa choppers, delivery rakes, etc. Also, old machines used for
transportation of people and light cargo such as carts drawn by cattle, wagons, sulkies and a
Chevrolet truck dating back to the year 1928. Most of this important machinery was rescued
from private collections and belong to old colonists.
The museum provides guided tours but they must be requested in advance. It also offers
personalized attention to the public and an information centre with brochures and pamphlets.
Museum hours:
Tuesday to Friday, from 9 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays, from 4 pm to 7 pm
Contact: Tel. +55 02941 427227 – E-mail: museovintter@generalroca.gov.ar
Address: Buenos Aires and Artigas Street
Catedral Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady Carmen Cathedral)
Nuestra Señora del Carmen is the only Cathedral in the whole valley and is located at the
intersection of Sarmiento and Mitre Street. This Cathedral is more than fifty years old and has
been declared of Municipal interest because of its undisputed historical value. This place of
worship has been recently restored and offers an invaluable visual attraction, especially at night
when the modern lights highlight its architectural lines, as well as its imposing clock and tower.

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