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Argentina‘s second largest city (pop. 1.3 million) is definitely a change of pace from Buenos Aires. While the country’s capital impresses with its imposing buildings and the pace and trappings of a major world city, Córdoba, smack in the centre of the country some 700 kilometres (435 miles) northwest of B.A., does so in a gentler, more laid-back way, with colonial elegance and provincial charm.

One of the architectural centerpieces of the city’s historic core (est. 1573), the so-called Manzana Jesuítica (Jesuit Block), is like a tour of the history not just of Córdoba but the whole country. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where the eponymous Catholic order had its local headquarters and founded Argentina’s first university. It’s a big reason why Córdoba came by such nicknames as “La Docta” (“The Learned”) and “city of the bells”.

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