The tiny village of Cerro Castillo has a tremendous legacy to share, beginning more than 5,000 years ago with the indigenous Tehuelches who left their prints embedded in the rocks near town. Thousands of years later, settlers arrived full of dreams for building new lives at the base of these beautiful towers. Today, their descendants honor their rich gaucho legacy pioneering new adventures and heights
Villa Cerro Castillo
Villa Cerro Castillo is located at the base of one of the most majestic mountains of Patagonia. Each morning, villagers have the privilege of opening their doors and greeting their very own mountain with its rich green forests and enormous, snow-capped towers. Local legend says that if you stare long enough you will even be able to see the wise ancient face who watches over the town from the snow and rock.
Many of the Villa’s inhabitants are descendants of pioneers who came to the area around a century ago, working with livestock companies that were established in Aysén or looking for new opportunities. These settlers and their families had to be self-reliant, because in these years there were no roads, no stores, and definitely no cell phone coverage! The harsh Patagonian climate and rugged landscapes rule above all, and they had to be strong to survive. They worked extremely hard to build viable sheep and cattle ranches and to breed renowned mountain horses that were capable of supporting their work. Years later, they began to experiment and diversify their operations with the addition of goats. And through it all, they worked diligently to build a community, to obtain basic services, and to build a better life for their families.
An antique school becomes a modern museum
Just moments from town you’ll discover another great example of how Villa Cerro Castillo is seeking to maintain its roots as it builds its future. Follow the Carretera Austral south and take the first turn to the left after the bridge over the Ibañéz River. Drive for approximately one km to the site of Villa Cerro Castillo’s first school, which has recently been restored and recognized as a National Monument. This impressive two-story building was built by the Villa’s settlers in 1955 and operated for 16 years. Its original construction used traditional materials and building techniques. For example, its outer walls were made of brick, the floor and rafters hand hewn with axes from enormous tree trunks, and the spectacular roof was constructed with “tejuela” wood shingles, each hand carved. After years of neglect, the school was recently restored and inaugurated in January 2014 as a museum. Today, you can tour this beautiful building which has a new future educating visitors about the colonization of the Ibañéz valley and the first inhabitants of the area, groups of hunters and gatherers who roamed and hunted in these lands more than 5,000 years ago!
Paredón de Las Manos
The Ibañéz River Valley is one of the most important archaeological settings in Central Patagonia. Scientists have recorded approximately 80 archaeological sites within the Valley and almost half of them contain prehistoric art. There are vestiges of the Tehuelche culture in the entire General Carrera Lake basin, especially in this sector; however, most sites are yet unstudied and are not open to the public. So, the Paredón de las Manos site, located only 200 meters from the Old School Museum, is an excellent opportunity to get a bit closer to this ancient Patagonian culture and see the traces left by the Tehuelches.
Plaza de la Villa
Plaza recientemente remodelada, en su entorno se encuentran la sede comunitaria, la cancha de la taba, la escuela, el gimnasio.
The gaucho drinking yerba mate sculpture
They cherish their heritage and fight to keep their traditions alive, sharing their stories with pride. You'll find this evident in the sculptures throughout town, like the gaucho drinking yerba mate next to the playground.