Asunción in a day

Inside the Casa de la Independencia where Paraguay became the first South American country to gain independence – but it’s had a stormy ride since then

According to TripAdvisor reviews, the number one attraction in Asunción is a new shopping mall that wouldn’t look out of place in Dubai. We have just enjoyed a Chinese meal there over-looking the skyline at sunset.

Meanwhile the few tourist sights in the historic area are run-down, daubed with graffiti or closed for renovation. And there are no tourists.

But it’s this ambiguity that makes Asunción so fascinating. It’s the capital of a country still handicapped by the ‘War of the Triple Alliance’, by being land-locked and decades of dictators and corruption.

Yet relaxed police line every street in the city’s heart so you feel very safe. Impressive residences with gates and private security outside are being built just down the road from where we are staying. And in the shopping mall you can buy electric mini-BMWs for your children.

This is a city to challenge preconceptions.

The new Le Galarie shopping centre – a showpiece for inward investment
Yet across town in Plaza de los Heroes there’s no money for vibrant public landscapes

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