Atryá – The Cleanest City in Paraguay

This past weekend we visited the nearby town of Atryá, which calls itself “The Cleanest City in Paraguay.”

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Although the hotel we stayed at was less than stellar, the town itself is worth a visit.

Patrick drove the first leg of the trip, while Danny napped. Then Patrick read a funny book and played with his pretzel fingers.

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Much like the Jesuit Ruins we visited in December near Encarnación (Santísima Trinidad and Jesus de Tavarangué, and San Cosme y Damián), the town of Atryá got its start as a reduction, or religious establishment for indigenous peoples. The original location of the Atryá Franciscan reduction was a bit north of its present location, but after attacks by slave-traders and hostile indigenous tribes, in 1672 the reduction was moved to the present-day Atryá, strategically located at the top of a large hill.

The town’s church, San Francisco de Atryá, contains an impressive, ornate and huge multi-paneled altarpiece.

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It is from the mid-1700s and is considered to be one of the finest in all of Paraguay.

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Atryá is known for its leather crafts. We visited the town’s artisan market where we saw belts, sandals, purses, wallets, thermoses, picture frames, coin pouches, little boxes, and even a beautiful child-size table and chairs – all made from leather and decorated with impressions made by metal stamps.

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We also saw beautiful hand-crafted parrots and toucans, each attached to a small branch dangling from fishing line, selling for about $2 a piece. We let each boy pick out one bird which we will hang from the ceiling in their bedrooms.

While in Atyrá, we visited Casa Marianela, a religious retreat center built in 2008 by Italian and local artisans. It is known for its murals, mosaics and wood carvings.

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It was a nice town to visit, just over an hour from Asunción. And while the town was somewhat clean, I haven’t visited enough towns yet to know whether it’s worthy of being called the “cleanest city in Paraguay.”

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