City Spotlight: Asunción, Paraguay



Asunción is the capital city of Paraguay.  It is also the largest city in the country with over 500,000 people calling it home.


City Spotlight: Asunción, Paraguay


The Spanish word asunción means ascension or assumption.  Normally asunción is used to refer to the Assumption of Mary.  This is probably why the capital city’s full name is Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción or Our Lady Saint Mary of Asunción.




The story of why the city has such a long name starts with Juan de Ayolas.  The Spanish conqueror Juan de Ayolas is thought to have been the first to visit the site which would eventually become the city of Asunción.  He was moving North up the Paraguay River looking for a way to move into present-day Bolivia.  Some time later Juan de Salazar y Espinosa and Gonzalo de Mendoza were sent to look for him.  They were not able to find him but they did stop to resupply their ships.  Salazar decided to found a fort where they stopped to resupply and he named it Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción in 1537.


Several colonial expeditions left from this city to discover several others throughout Argentina, Bolivia, and the rest of Paraguay.  This is probably why it gets the name “Mother of Cities”.  It is also one of the oldest cities in South America.



Modern day Asunción is home to the national government, the principal port, and is the industrial and cultural hub of the country.  This hub is made up of several buildings like the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes which contains old paintings from the 19th century and the National Pantheon of the Heroes, where many of the nation’s heroes are entombed.  The National Pantheon of the Heroes is a smaller version of Les Invalides in Paris.



Some of the food you can find in Asunciónis and throughout Paraguay are Mbeju and Payagua mascada.   Mbeju is a starch cake with the main ingredients of manioc flour and cheese.  Payagua mascada is a tortilla also made with manioc flour and beef.  Manioc flour comes from the yucca or cassava root.


City Spotlight: Asunción, Paraguay



If you find yourself wanting to order soup do not use the word “Sopa”.


City Spotlight: Asunción, Paraguay


In Paraguay, that refers to a dish similar to cornbread.  If you want soup you will have to say “Caldo”.


If you are looking to travel to check out a Spanish speaking country make sure to download our free Survival Guide to help you navigate the Spanish language as you move through the country.



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