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Chilecito calle Joaquín V. González.jpg
Chilecito is located in Argentina
Location of Chilecito in Argentina
Coordinates: 29°10′S 67°30′W / 29.167°S 67.500°W / -29.167; -67.500Coordinates: 29°10′S 67°30′W / 29.167°S 67.500°W / -29.167; -67.500
Country  Argentina
Province La Rioja
Department Chilecito
Founded 1715
 • Mayor Nicolás Lázaro Fonzalida (El Nene) (Justicialist Party)
Elevation 1,080 m (3,540 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 36,914
Demonym(s) chileciteña/o
Time zone ART (UTC-3)
CPA base F5360
Area code(s) 03825

Chilecito is a city in the Argentine province of La Rioja, and head of the department of Chilecito.


It's located in the valley formed by the Sierras de Velazco to the east, and the Sierras de Famatina to the west. The city was founded in 1715 by Spanish colonizers. From its mining past that saw its zenith at the end of the 19th century, the city conserves the cable-car of the La Mejicana mine built by Bleichert.

Argentine educator, lawmaker and historian Joaquín V. González was raised in the vicinity of Chilecito, and kept a vacation home here in his later years. The property, which he called Samay Huasi (Quechua Samay Wasi, "rest house") was donated to the University of La Plata for use as an artists' retreat.

Chilecito is surrounded by an oasis of irrigation, which has expanded by way of supplements from underground waters. The majority of agricultural land is used for the cultivation of vineyards, while the most significant industrial activity is based in wine-cellars. Walnut and fruit trees are also cultivated and their product is locally processed.

At the end of the 1990s, the local faculty dependent of the National University of La Rioja became the National University of Chilecito, a measure harshly criticized by different academic and political sectors, especially considering that the President of Argentina at the time, Carlos Menem, was born in that province.

Samay Huasi, a historic property in Chilecito.
Chirau Mita Botanical Gardens.


Chilecito had 49,453 inhabitants (as of the 2010 census [INDEC]), representing a 31% population increase in ten years (there were 22,485 inhabitants in 1991). These numbers include the nearby localities of Anguinán, Los Sarmientos, San Miguel and La Puntilla; without them, the population of Chilecito was 25,423 inhabitants in 2001.

Notable people[edit]

  • Juan Ramires de Velasco (Fundador)
  • Joaquín V. González, née Joaquín Víctor González
  • Mateo Rosas de Oquendo (Poeta año 1591)
  • Julián Amatte
  • Doña Nocenta Pizetta
  • Francisco Antonio Ortiz de Ocampo
  • Domingo de Castro y Bazán
  • Sarmiento de la Vega
  • Isabel Ibarra y Velasco de Sarmiento de la Vega

Cable Carril[edit]

Chilecito is home to the Cable Carril, an early 20th. century wire ropeway that served the rich mines of La Mejicana. Designed and built by Adolf Bleichert & Co. of Leipzig, Germany, the wire ropeway is currently a National Historic Place and has a museum at its terminal station. Tourists may ride the line to Station 1, a 5.625 mile journey. Peter von Bleichert wrote a book on "Bleichert's Wire Ropeways" that contains information on the design, construction, and operation of the wire ropeway at Chilecito: