This past weekend we visited the nearby town of Atryá, which calls itself “The Cleanest City in Paraguay.”
Patrick drove the first leg of the trip, while Danny napped. Then Patrick read a funny book and played with his pretzel fingers.
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.
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.
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.
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.”