Patagonia, September 24 2020
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The Quilmes Ruins

The Ruins of Quilmes can be reached from Cafayate, Salta, or from Tafi del Valle, Tucumán. From far they look like a mountain with strange lines or tracks.

As one approaches, a meaning in those marks is discovered: foundations of ancient buildings, houses, squares, yards. They are the remains of a worker and warrior people who fought to the end to defend their holy city.

The Quilmes Ruins, located in the province of Tucumán, are the remains of the largest  pre-Columbian settlement in Argentina, a real city with high population density, complex sociocultural processes and highly developed irrigation mechanisms.

Quilmes Indians living there were exiled by the Spanish and staged a dramatic exodus: they were forced to travel on foot and without the minimum necessary supplies for more than 1200 km. up to the vicinity of the city of Buenos Aires. There, the few who eventually arrived, later died from diseases that were unknown to them. It is the place where now the city of Quilmes stands, which keeps in its name the memory of that people.

The ruins were loosely rebuilt in the 1970’s, following a tourist rather than archaeological criteria. They undergone processes of expropriation and exploitation almost uncontrollably. Most recently (2009 / 2010) the descendants of the ancient Quilmes took possession of the land and are in charge of the visits. They act as guides and tell visitors not only about what constructions were like and how society was organized, but how their fight for the return of land was and what they plan to from now on. A simple tourist visit is thus deeply enriched. Try climbing up one of the hillsides and get moved by imagining what the lost world of the Quilmes was like.

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