Heavy with gold from Peru and searching for a route back to Spain, the colony abandoned the treacherous waters of Patagonia, left the pirate riddled Caribbean and made a road south through the continent. Their port was Buenos Aires, and their road the pan-American highway. This is where Salta was born.
The town is centred around Plaza 9 de Julio and spreads in a grid from there. Iced in pink and white like a cake, is the Basillica, where the Pope once turned a town of 200,000 into an audience of 1.2million. Round the orange trees and stone fountains, you’ll also find the MAAM museum, where Inca child sacrifices lend to the historian and the curious. Part of the history of Salta includes the old prison, the town hall, the church of San Fransisco and the cloister convent, all of which played a part in Spanish colonisation and have a fascinating past of their own.
For modern Salta, have a drink to live music in La Balcarce street or get a treat in the trendy cafes of the north east. The town is wide and the sun is high, so get the full view of Salta from Cerritos San Bernardo (1454m). Walk the 40 minutes up 1070 steps or take the cable car from San Martin park.