It would be an understatement to say that Bariloche’s scenic Patagonian setting has played a role in its cultural development. Tourism is, after all, the main draw here, so by participating in some of the city’s popular outdoor adventures you are, by default, experiencing some legitimate aspects of its culture as well. But sports are not the only thing this quaint, Swiss-mountainesque town has to offer. Spend a little down time plumbing the depths of its history and you may find more here worth talking about than just snow covered mastiffs.
For example, were you aware that Bariloche was a popular point of exodus for Nazi war criminals after WWII? It’s true. You can book tours or just do a little reading and exploring to find out more. In fact, and this may pique your curiosity, some of the more conspiracy driven historians even claim that both Hitler and Eva Braun called this mountain town home some years after 1945. There are, of course, less disputed bits of history, like the beautiful Ernesto de Estrada designed Civic Center Plaza, which dates back to 1940 and houses the city’s small but enjoyable Museum of Patagonia. It’s worth coming here just for the view of the lake and a photo op with the square’s resident Saint Bernards.
A few beautiful and intriguing buildings dot the surrounding landscape, including the historic Llao Llao hotel, its neighboring San Eduardo Chapel and the telltale belfry atop the neogothic Bariloche Cathedral. If you come in October (springtime in Argentina), you can even experience one of South America’s most important classical music events in the annual “Semana Musica Llao Llao,” which celebrates the sounds of beautiful classical melodies along the foothills of the Andes. Altogether it adds up to a modest but enjoyable Patagonian cultural offering.