North Argentina Market: Purmamarca is the Biggest and Best

Of all North Argentina Markets visited, Purmamarca is the best and always busy. Tour buses come from Salta to admire the seven-color hill and shop. The village was designed around the town’s patron saint, Santa Rosa de Lima. St. Rosa de Lima Church was consecrated in 1648. Built with adobe that still remains, the inside pews, ceiling and walls are made of cordons (giant cactus). The entire inside (including pews) is made from cactus wood.

The church is known for its altar featuring an image of Santa Rosa de Lima on a niche built in the wall. There are also other valuable paintings and Inca-style images from Cuzco. The chapel was declared National Historical Monument in 1941. No photos are allowed inside. The one I took below is from standing outside the Church.

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Santa Rosa de Lima in niche inside church, Purmamarca, Argentina

Santa Rosa de Lima in niche inside church, Purmamarca, Argentina

giant cactus wood used extensively in North Argentina

giant cactus wood used extensively in North Argentina

1,000 year old Algarrobo tree, Purmamarca, Argentina

1,000 year old Algorrobo tree, Purmamarca, Argentina

 

An ancient Algorrobo tree (a carob species) stands in front of the church and is believed to be over 1,000 years old. This tree is one of Purmamarca’s best known symbols. Purmamarca was founded in 1594 which makes it one of the earliest pre-Hispanic towns in Argentina. Located at 2,192 meters/7,191 feet above sea level, all activity essentially takes place around Plaza 9 de Julio Square. A huge amount of sellers take up the space with heaps of scarfs, hats, alpaca clothing, and Bolivian-style woven blankets. I, like the gazillion other tourists, spent the day buying.

Purmamarca Market, Argentina

Purmamarca Market, Argentina

heaps of goods in Purmamarca Market, Argentina

heaps of goods in Purmamarca Market, Argentina

Purmamarca Market, Argentina

Purmamarca Market, Argentina

 

Look carefully. The sellers will bargain. Then walk through stores on side streets to browse more unusual handicrafts. I think Purmamarca had the best market and variety of goods in North Argentina. Even better than Salta and suffer buyer’s remorse after thinking a last day in Salta would be better.

Longer stay visitors can take a 3 kilometer/1.8 mile walk around the cerro (hill), go horse riding, hike or continue into Bolivia on an excellent highway. The ride back to Salta is approximately two hours and boring.

Purmamarca, Argentina

Purmamarca, Argentina

Purmamarca street, Argentina

Purmamarca street, Argentina

unusual masks for sale in Purmamarca, Argentina

unusual masks for sale in Purmamarca, Argentina

 

Many tourists then fly to wherever on the same day but our United Airlines Flight wouldn’t leave from Buenos Aires until 9:00p the next evening. Since it was impossible to connect on the same day, we drove back to Salta for one last night at Design Suites Boutique Hotel.

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