Estancia Montelén: a Neo Gothic church and a ruined school in the forest

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Do you want to find a Neo-Gothic chapel half destroyed in the middle of an overgrown forest, hidden in a dark recess of the wet pampas? Do you want to visit a place “full of pics”? Put on your GPS that the final destination to Maximo Fernandez.

The province of Buenos Aires has many towns that were founded around railway stations. When it ceased to pass, many of these towns disappeared almost entirely. This is the case of Máximo Fernandez, a train station near Bragado.

Near this railway station begins the story of Montelén, in the mid-nineteenth century, when a young employee of the Court of Peace marries the daughter of a powerful “estanciero”, who as a wedding gift gives him a small piece of land. Previously, this land belonged to the famous “caudillo” Facundo Quiroga (1834). With this initial capital, Máximo Fernandez manages to buy 6 leagues of lands calling his fund, “La Matilde”, the name of his beloved wife.

Mr and Mrs. Fernandez lived in Europe and in Uruguay and when Máximo wanted to live in the Estancia, Matilde did not returned. To attract his beloved wife, he ordered to build a huge mansion on one floor in the style of those italian castles that has dazzled them so much during their bourgeois stay in Europe. Matilde did not returned.

During the next years, the Estancia became the property of another family: The Salaberry’s (from 1904 until 1942). Mr. Salaberry made resurged the Estancia. He also owned a school, a neo-gothic church, a bakery and an immense nursery that provided exotic trees from remote parts of the country. In the new “Matilde”, Carlos Thays designed a park, an artificial lake and built cages like a zoo.

Salaberry died and the Estancia was bought by Mr. Suarez Zabala (1942). From there on, the name of the estancia changed to “Montelén”. In 1974 a tornado of unusual violence fell on the town already in silence. Since this tragic year, the nature took over the situation on the mortal remains of the chapel of Sacred Heart and the school.

Taking the journey from the city of Bragado to Montelén, on its dusty roads, to reach a virtually uninhabited town, is a great experience for lovers of natural life and photography.

You can find on the web many posts about the rich history of this land, for example the documents that tell about the invasions of local indians (malones). There are several posts about ghosts and horror stories  around this site, which are nothing but a product of local folklore. This is not our purpose.

Many people want to know this place and do not realize that it is private property. Its present owners kindly allow the entrance by appointment, while they tell us in detail the history of the place and help us to reconstruct it from the ruins. The secretary of tourism of Bragado is the nexus of contact with them.

This is a great unusual spost for photography or shooting. The experience is also unique.

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