Placid, hot Santiago del Estero enjoys the distinction of the title ‘Madre de Ciudades’ (Mother of Cities), for this city, founded in 1553, was the first Spanish urban settlement in what is now Argentina. Sadly, it boasts no architectural heritage from that period. Nevertheless, it makes a pleasant stop.

Santiagueños enjoy a nationwide reputation for folk music and, to put it politely, valuing rest and relaxation over work, but there’s plenty of bustle around the town center, particularly in the evenings when life orbits around the pretty plaza and adjoining pedestrian streets.