A City of Many Names
Upon its founding in 1537, the city was officially named La Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de la Asuncion (The Very Noble and Loyal City of Our Lady St. Mary of the Assumption), shortened to Asuncion. During the colonial period, the city earned the nickname Madre de Ciudades (Mother of Cities) because it was the departure point for expeditions that founded many cities in the Spanish empire, including Corrientes and Santa Fe in Argentina, Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia, and Santiago de Jerez and Ciudad Real in Brazil. In Guarani, Asuncion is named Paraguaype (with the y pronounced as a u), a name which many still use today.
Asuncion ‘s Flowering Trees
Asuncion’s many flowering trees, lining the main roads and filling the plazas, are one of the things that give this capital city a lush natural feel. Ascuncenos are very proud of their trees and rightfully so. Their bright colors are a visual delight. In residential areas, it is not uncommon to find large trees in the middle of the streets with neighbors steadfastly refusing their removal, or to see trees with semi-circular pruning up top to make way for power lines. Every season brings a burst of color. Lapachos (or tajy in Guarani) explode with flowers throughout the winter – the pink lapacho blooms first followed by the yellow and the increasingly rare white lapacho. Spring is the season for chivatos, whose wide canopies burst into bright hues of orange competing for attention with the blues and lilacs of the jacaranda tree. During the summer, yellow flowers of the lluvia de oro cascade from tree branches. Palo borrachos with their rough, spikey exteriors show their softer side in the fall, blooming with large pink and white flowers.
Asuncion Calendar of Events
Semana de Teatro (March)
The Centro Paraguayo de Teatro (Cepate) organizes the yearly Semana de Teatro (Theater Week) during which a variety of free theatrical performances are held throughout Asuncion.
Maria Auxiliadora (May 24th)
This celebration involves aprocesion nautica (nautical procession) where the image of the Virgen Maria Auxiliadora journeys by boat from the downtown Sajonia neighborhood along the Paraguay River and into the Bay of Asuncion to arrive at Asuncion’s main cathedral with the faithful following in decorated boats.
Asuncion Fashion Week (September & April)
About as far from rural life as you can get in Paraguay, Asuncion Fashion Week is a chance to see both Paraguay’s established, up-and-coming fashion designers show off their collections.
www.afw.com.py LGBT Film Festival (June/July)
Organized by Paraguay’s gay community in conjunction with various cultural centers, the Festival de Cine Lesbigaytrans features movies unlikely to be shown in local movie theaters. Attendance is a chance to support this often discriminated minority group. Contact gay advocacy groups for more information (see LGBT Travelers).