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Salta is a city in northwestern Argentinamarker and the capital city of the Salta Province. With a population of 464,678 inhabitants as of the , it is Argentina's 8th largest city.

Overview

It is situated in the Lerma Valley, 1,152 meters above sea level, at the foothills of the Andes mountains.

The weather is warm and dry, with annual averages of 756 mm of rainfall and an average temperature of 16.4 °C (20.4 °C in summer, 10.8 °C in winter). January and February are the months with greatest rainfall. During the spring, Salta is occasionally plagued by severe, week long dust storms.

Nicknamed Salta la Linda ("Salta the Fair"), it has become a major tourist destination due to its old, colonial architecture and the natural scenery of the valleys westward. Attractions in the city proper include the 18th century Cabildo, the neo-classical style Cathedral, and the July 9 central square. The city's museums exhibit a wide range of artifacts and art work from the native civilations that flourished in the area (Salta is located in the Southernmost region of what was the Inca empire, belonging to the Collasuyu, one of the four areas the empire was divided until the Spanish conquest), as well as from the 16th century Spanish conquest and the colonial and post-colonial periods. Salta is also the starting point of the "Train to the Clouds" (Tren a las nubes), and on the way to red-soiled Cafayate, as well as to other nearby tourist destinations.

The Martín Miguel de Güemes Airportmarker, 6 kilometres southeast of the city, has regular flights to Buenos Airesmarker, Tucumánmarker, Jujuy, Córdobamarker and Santa Cruz de la Sierramarker (Boliviamarker).

History

Salta was founded on April 16 1582 by the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Lerma, who intended the settlement to be an outpost between Lima,Peru and,Buenos Aires.

During the war of independence, the city became a commercial and military strategic point between Perumarker and the Argentine cities. Between 1816 and 1821, the city was led by local military leader General Martín Miguel de Güemes, who under the command of General José de San Martín, defended the city and surrounding area from Spanish forces coming from further north.

Salta emerged from the War of Independence politically in disarray and financially bankrupt, a condition that lingered throughout much of the 19th century. However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the arrival of Italian, Spanish and Arab immigrants, particularly Syrians and Lebanese, revived trade and agriculture all over the area while further enhancing the city's multicultural flavor.

Attractions

The city center features a number of impressive buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th and early 20th centuries. Clockwise around the Ninth of July Square are the neoclassical Cathedral, the French style Museum of Contemporary Art, the Cabildo (in former times, the city's town hall, nowadays a historical museum) and the Museum of High Mountain Archeology, which houses artifacts from the Inca civilization including the magnifically preserved bodies of three Inca children.

Within walking distance of the 9th July Square are the impressiveSaint Francis Church and the city's two pedestrian streets: Alberdi and Florida. The three blocks in Balcarce street closest to the train station are now the center of night life in Salta, with restaurants, pubs and cafés on both sidewalks and concerts every night.

Rising imposingly in the east is San Bernardo Hill. Its summit, from which visitors can get an awe-inspiring view of the city and the entire valley, can be reached by car, cable car or stairway.

Image:Salta - Convento de San Francisco - Nocturno.jpg|The Church of Saint FrancisFile:Catedral de Salta (552008).jpg|The main cathedralImage:Catedral de Salta.jpg|Inside the cathedralFile:Teatro de Salta.jpg|Victoria TheatreFile:Calle Mitre - Salta.jpg|Mitre StreetFile:Hotel Colonial - Salta.jpg|The Colonial HotelFile:Plaza 9 de Julio - Salta.jpg|Ninth of July PlazaFile:Cabildo - Salta (5708).jpg|Colonial Cabildo

Sports

Salta residents, just like most Argentines, are very enthusiastic about football; the most important local clubs are: Juventud Antoniana, Gimnasia y Tiro de Salta and Central Norte. All three of them are followed by many faithful fans. Juventud Antoniana and Central Norte currently play at third division, while Gimnasia y Tiro plays in the fourth division. Other popular sports are baseball (a game in which Salta players excel nationally), basketball, volleyball, rugby and mountaineering.

Culture And Arts

Salta is probably the most Spanish-like city in Argentina, so much so that many tourists from Spain often say the city resembles an Andalucian city. Folklore activities - cuisine, colonial architecture, music, dancing, and other customs - are widely spread and practiced by its people.

One of the main activities in Salta is the April Culture Festival, which lasts the entire month and offers a wide variety of activities, such as culture display performances, handcrafts exposition, and live orchestra performances.

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