Pilar, capital of the southern department of Neembucu, is also known as the Capital de la Cordialidad’ (Capital of Cordiality). With its wide adoquinado (cement block) roads and sculptures scattered throughout, Pilar has a different feel than other Paraguayan cities of its size. The picturesque historic center is very walkable and as locals pass you on bicycles you may feel more like you are in a sleepy riverside suburb rather than a city.
As the Paraguay River wraps around Pilar it creates riverfront views in multiple directions. A catastrophic region-wide flood in 1983 prompted the creation of a retaining wall which also serves as a makeshift boardwalk. Walking along the dirt path you’ll see flocks of birds flying amongst the water hyacinths while fishermen slowly make their way up and down the river in colorful wooden boats.
Pilarenses are known for their artistic talents; the city’s singers and dancers regularly take first place in national talent competitions. These talents are on display during the Dia de la Juventud (Sept. 21st) parade complete with decorated floats and the celebration of the founding of Pilar (Oct. 12th) which includes week-long showcases of local talent. For those who can’t get enough of ringing in the New Year the Fiesta Hawaiana is held during the first week of January. This large party takes place on at the banks of the Arroyo Neembucu and draws music acts and revelers from all of Paraguay as well as participants from neighboring Argentina.
Pilar’s Larger Than Life Birds
A stroll from Pilar’s Plaza Mariscal Lopez to the municipal office along Mariscal Lopez will take you past several colorful statues featuring birds native to the Neembucu wetlands. These are the brainchild of local biologist and head of the Asociacion Hombre y Naturaleza, Andres Contreras.
Manufactura de Pilar Factory
Established in the early 1930’s by an Italian count, Manufacturas Pilar is one of Paraguay’s largest cotton processing plants and a major source of employment for Pilar and the surrounding areas. The factory is one of only a handful worldwide to carry out the entire process from raw cotton to finished product (sheets, towels, etc) ready for sale (and export). In addition, various cotton by-products are made on-site including cooking oil, soap and animal feed. The factory operates on steam generated from the company’s 27,000 hectares of eucalyptus and is a mishmash of processes from the rudimentary (soaps are cut by hand) to the modern (textiles are printed by laser etching).
Tours are given in the mornings and can be set up by contacting either the Municipality (www.municipalidaddepilar.com) or the Public Relations office of Manufacturas Pilar. Tel: 0786 232 181/6, Mello and the banks of the Paraguay River, www.pilar.com.py Museo Paolo Federico Alberzoni
The factory’s original founder, Italian count Paolo Federico Alberzoni lived on the factory grounds till his death in 1973. His home has been turned into the Museo Paolo Federico Alberzoni. The museum showcases many of the count’s personal belongings from the Old World as well as machines once used in the factory itself. Tel: 0786 232 386, Corner of Teniente Mendoza and General Diaz, Thurs-Sun 4pm-7pm
Cabildo de Pilar
Built in the 1820’s, this two-story building housed government and military offices before passing into private hands after the Triple Alliance War. In the 1970’s it was converted into a museum with displays about the Triple Alliance as well as objects and religious relics from Pilar’s history. The museum was recently renovated and many of its artifacts have been restored. Tel: 0786 232 078, corner of Mariscal Lopez and 14 de Mayo, Mon-Fri 7:30am-11am, 2pm-5pm, Sat 9am-11am Plaza Mariscal Lopez & Plaza de los Heroes
This pleasant tree lined plaza is perfect for taking a break. Wander around the large statues representing the department’s birds and visit the adjoining Cabildo de Pilar museum
Casa de la Cultura
Situated where one of Pilar’s main streets meets the river, the cultural center has periodic movie screenings, art and photography exhibits. There is also a small coffee shop. No phone, Gral. Diaz 112 almost at 14 de Mayo, Mon-Sat 8am-1pm
Pilar was home to Juanita Pessoa, one time lover of a young Mariscal Lopez. The two met when he was stationed in Neembucu as a colonel in his father’s army (long before he ascended to the presidency). Mariscal Lopez fathered three sons with Juanita, one of whom was born after Madame Lynch had become Mariscal Lopez’s lover. In fact the two women knew each other and Madame Lynch treated Juanita’s children well. Her colonial house still stands to this day at (Paolo Alberzoni almost at Teniente Rios) and some of her belongings are in the Cabildo de Pilar museum.
Apart-Hotel Liz The hotel’s spacious apartments all have two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and kitchen facilities. They are spacious and comfortable. Rooms facing the street also have balconies. Located about 10 blocks from main plaza and right off main entrance to town; Tel: 0786 232944/5., Tacuary between Antequera and Pedro Juan Caballero, www.lizahotel.com, Singles Gs, 95,000, Doubles Gs 130,000, Triples Gs. 165,000, TV, A/C, kitchen area
Hotel Monumental II Simple and clean, rooms in this hotel (and its sister hotel down the street Monumental I) do the trick. On the downside it is a little removed from the historic center. However, one positive note is that it’s next to the delicious Jasy II restaurant. Tel: 0786 230 638, Tacuary almost at Ayolas, www.hotelmonumental.com.py Single Gs. 65,000, Double Gs.
100,000, Triple 135,000, computers with internet, TV, A/C, mini-fridge
Ex-Batallon Home to the cavalry the Ex-Batallon (formally known as the Segunda Division de Caballeria) will usually allow people to use their camping grounds for free. There are bathrooms and running water and the location along the river makes for great views and good bird watching. When coming from Route 6 turn right 150 meters before the bridge that leads to downtown Pilar and continue 250 meters to the signed entrance. Talk with the guards at the gate to request permission to camp.
Restaurante Jasy II Delicious authentic Paraguayan food served in a basic but cheery setting. Jasy II is often recommended by locals for the surubi dishes (as well as affordable prices). Try the surubi a la napolitana and don’t forget to order a dessert such as kiveve, a sweet squash puree. Tel: 0786 231 738, 0975 654 752, Tacuary almost at Ayolas next to Hotel Monumental II, Mon-Sat 6am-3pm, Sun 8am-3pm, Gs. 10,000-25,000
La Preferida Run by Dona Minu whose cooking features a level of seasoning that is rare in Paraguayan food. Lunch only and they run out quickly. Stop by ahead of time to request special fish based dishes. Tel: 0786 230 1 79, Ayolas almost at Tacuary daily 7am-3pm, Gs. 20,000
Pizzamania Best pizza in Pilar with crunchy thin crust and good variety of flavors including vegetarian (very good) and Mexican pizza. Tel: 0975 620 992, 14 de Mayo almost at Avenida Irala daily 6pm to 1 am, Gs, 25,000-35,000
Hamburguesena Hery Burgers are cheap with plenty of toppings to choose from including chilies and hot sauce. Tel: 0975 614 929, corner of Alberzoni and Dr. Milciades Ortiz, daily 6pm-1am, Gs. 8,000-13,000
Mr. Kombi This fast food joint may be the only place in Paraguay where you can jump on a trampoline before chowing down on a tasty lomito. Vegetarians can get a meatless lomito for half price. Tel: 0971 173 224, 14 de Mayo 1254, daily 7pm-1am, Gs. 6,000-10,000
Mercosur A good place to stock up on both basic essentials and imported goodies, Mercosur sells goods from all four Mercosur nations (Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay). They have a good selection of cheeses, hot sauces, and a nice health food section. 14 de Mayo just before Avenida Irala, Mon-Sat 8am-5pm
From Asuncion Ciudad de Pilar and La Encarnacena buses makes the six hour journey to Pilar daily, Gs. 60,000. It is best to get tickets ahead of time as buses are often full. These buses can also be caught in San Ignacio at the turn off to Pilar just past Hotel Arapysandu and the horse head monument at the northern edge of town.
The road between San Ignacio and Pilar is particularly good for bird watching. Even from the bus you can see several garzas blancas wading around alongside cows in flooded fields and caracoleros sitting on fence posts looking down into roadside lagoons for their next meal. Drivers will want to keep their eyes on the road though as Route 4 is infamous for its large potholes.
Pilar Map Paraguay Photo Gallery
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