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In This Charming Argentinian Hamlet, No Cars Are Allowed

Spot in La Cumbrecita. Image on Flickr by user José e Marina (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Can you imagine how it must be to live in an all pedestrian town where there are virtually no cars? Such a place does exist, and it's called La Cumbrecita (The Little Peak). The small town is located just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Argentinian city of Córdoba, in Sierras Grandes in the province of Córdoba, and it has roughly 1,000 residents.

La Cumbrecita is a gem of ecotourism with an aesthetic that recalls a 15th century German town. It was founded less than a century ago, according to the province government's tourist website:

En el año 1932, viaja a Argentina desde Alemania el Dr. Helmut Cabjolsky acompañado por su familia. En la búsqueda de un lugar para vacacionar, compra en 1934 en las sierras de Córdoba un campo de aproximadamente 500 ha, el cual contenía como punto de referencia geográfico al denominado Cerro Cumbrecita.

La primera edificación [era para servir] de casa de veraneo para la familia Cabjolsky, pero muy pronto se transformó en albergue para alojar a los amigos de la familia. Años más tarde, dado el creciente interés turístico que despertaba el territorio, la casa comenzó a funcionar como una pequeña hostería.

Back in 1932, Dr. Helmut Cabjolsky went to Argentina from Germany together with his family. They were looking for a place to spend their vacations, so in 1934 he bought a 500-hectare land in the Córdoba mountains that had as geographical landmark: the so-called Cumbrecita hill.

The first building [was meant to be used] as summer house for the Cabjolskys, but soon after it became a guest house for family friends. Years later, due to the increasing tourist interest in the place, the house started to operate as a small hostel.

At first, the town wasn't designed as the tourist destination that it has now become:

La divulgación del encanto del lugar […] no fue intencional sino más bien circunstancial y de boca en boca, ya que nunca se había pensado en la posibilidad de que La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, podría transformarse en polo de atracción turística.

En la actualidad, el turismo en La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, es uno de los mayores atractivos de la región, llenando sus calles de visitantes nacionales e internacionales durante cada temporada estival.

As the place's charm spread by word of mouth […] the possibility of La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, becoming a tourist destination wasn't our intention, but rather circumstantial.

Today, La Cumbrecita, Córdoba, is one of the most attractive tourist places in the region. Every summer season its streets are always filled with national and international visitors.

“Welcome to La Cumbrecita, pedestrian town”. Entrance of La Cumbrecita. Image on Flickr by user Juan Pedro Diez (CC BY 2.0).

One of the rules of La Cumbrecita is that from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., streets are closed to automobiles. All vehicles must be parked at the town's entrance and tourists can only get in on foot.

According to a piece published on BBC Mundo, Ingrid Cabjolsky, granddaughter of the founder, remarked that she doesn't understand “why in historic centers in European capitals, cars are still allowed”:

Tú entras al centro de cualquier ciudad y está colapsada, tanto por la cantidad de autos como por la contaminación visual, ambiental y sonora.

You go to any city's downtown, and it's all jammed up, due both to the number of cars and to the visual, environmental and noise pollution.

As idyllic as it may sound, the place has its challenges:

Venir a vivir a La Cumbrecita no es fácil, porque al ser parte de una reserva natural los códigos de zonificación y edificación son muy estrictos: en busca de mantener la calma y el paisaje natural, por ejemplo, los lotes deben ser de mínimo 2.000 metros cuadrados.

Living in La Cumbrecita isn't easy. Being part of a nature reserve, zoning and building codes are very rigid: for instance, in order to keep the quietness and natural landscape, all lots must have at least 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet).

La Cumbrecita's website itself offers some warnings about what should be taken into consideration to have a pleasant visit:

En La Cumbrecita NO EXISTE Banco, NO HAY Cajero Automático, y NO DISPONEMOS de una estación de servicio para proveer combustible, por lo que recomendamos PREVER dichas necesidades.

La Cumbrecita es un pueblo peatonal, todos los circuitos internos están previstos para ser realizados a pie; es importante prever de CALZADO APROPIADO para recorrerlos. […] es necesario disponer de ABRIGO, LENTES DE SOL Y PROTECTOR SOLAR.

There ARE NO banks in La Cumbrecita, NO ATMs, and we DON'T have gas stations to pump fuel, so we recommend you anticipate those needs.

La Cumbrecita is a pedestrian town, all internal circuits are designed to be followed on foot. It's important to wear APPROPRIATE SHOES to go from one place to another. […] having a GOOD COAT, SUNGLASSES and SUN PROTECTION is a must.

On Twitter, people have posted photos from the town. Matías Di Santi showed us how La Cumbrecita welcomed him:

After the journey, this is how La Cumbrecita, in Cordobese lands, welcomes us.

Majo shared a moment of her childhood in town:

Retro moment: me at age 10 in La Cumbrecita.

Sou described how her experience was somewhat contradictory to the peace the town usually offers:

On May 1st [Labor Day in many countries], I went to La Cumbrecita (Córdoba), and there I was told they were already needing a break from all the tourists they were receiving.

Meanwhile, Aldana Martínez shared her bigger wish:

I'd do anything to move to La Cumbrecita.

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