The name Bariloche comes from the Mapudungun word Vuriloche meaning "people from behind the mountain" (vuri = behind, che = people). The Poya people used the Vuriloche pass to cross the Andes, keeping it secret from the Spanish priests for a long time.
Nahuel Huapi lake was known to Spaniards since the times of the Conquest of Chile. In the summer of 1552–1553, the Governor of Chile Pedro de Valdivia sent Francisco de Villagra to explore the area east of the Andes at the latitudes of the city of Valdivia. Francisco de Villagra crossed the Andes trough Mamuil Malal Pass and headed south until reaching Limay River in the vicinity of Nahuel Huapi Lake.
Another early Spaniard to visit the zone of Nahuel Huapi Lake was the Jesuit priest Diego de Rosales. He had been ordered to the area by the Governor of Chile Francisco Antonio de Acuña Cabrera y Bayona, who was concerned about the unrest of the native Puelche and Poya after the slave-hunting expeditions carried out by Luis Ponce de León in 1649, who captured Indians and sold them into slavery. Diego de Rosales started his journey at the ruins of Villarica in Chile, crossed the Andes through Mamuil Malal Pass, and traveled further south along the eastern Andean valleys, reaching Nahuel Huapi Lake in 1650.
In 1670 Jesuit father Nicolás Mascardi, based in Chiloé Archipelago, entered the area through the Reloncaví Estuary and Todos los Santos Lake to found a mission at the Nahuel Huapi Lake, which lasted until 1673. A new mission at the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake was established in 1703, backed financially from Potosí, thanks to orders from the viceroy of Peru. Historians disagree if the mission belonged to the jurisdiction of Valdivia or Chiloé. According to historic documents, the Poya of Nahuelhuapi requested the mission to be reestablished, apparently to forge an alliance with the Spaniards against the Puelche.
The mission was destroyed in 1717 by the Poya following their disagreement with the superior of the mission. He had refused to give them a cow. Soon thereafter authorities learned that four or five people travelling to Concepción had been killed by the Poya. The colonists assembled a punitive expedition in Calbuco and Chiloé. Composed of both Spaniards and indios reyunos, the expedition did not find any Poya.
In 1766 the head of the Mission of Ralún tried to reestablish the mission at Nahuel Huapi, but the following year, the Crown suppressed the Society of Jesus, ordering them out of the colonies in the Americas.
The area had stronger connections to Chile than the distant city of Buenos Aires during most of the 19th century, but the explorations of Francisco Moreno and the Argentine campaigns of the Conquest of the Desert established the claims of the Argentine government. It thought the area was a natural expansion of the Viedma colony, and the Andes were the natural frontier to Chile. In the 1881 border treaty between Chile and Argentina, the Nahuel Huapi area was recognised as Argentine.
The modern settlement of Bariloche developed from a shop established by Carlos Wiederhold. The German immigrant had first settled in the area of Lake Llanquihue in Chile. Wiederhold crossed the Andes and established a little shop called La Alemana (The German). A small settlement developed around the shop, and its former site is the city center. By 1895 the settlement was primarily made up of German-speaking immigrants: Austrians, Germans, and Slovenians, as well as Italians from the city of Belluno, and Chileans. A local legend says that the name came from a letter erroneously addressed to Wiederhold as San Carlos instead of Don Carlos. Most of the commerce in Bariloche related to goods imported and exported at the seaport of Puerto Montt in Chile. In 1896 Perito Moreno wrote that it took three days to reach Puerto Montt from Bariloche, but traveling to Viedma on the Atlantic coast of Argentina took "one month or more".
In the 1930s the centre of the city was redesigned to have the appearance of a traditional European central alpine town (it was called "Little Switzerland.") Many buildings were made of wood and stone. In 1909 there were 1,250 inhabitants; a telegraph, post office, and a road connected the city with Neuquén. Commerce continued to depend on Chile until the arrival of the railroad in 1934, which connected the city with Argentine markets.
Between 1935 and 1940, the Argentine Directorate of National Parks carried out a number of urban public works, giving the city a distinctive architectural style. Among them, perhaps the best-known is the Civic Centre.
Bariloche grew from being a centre of cattle trade that relied on commerce with Chile, to becoming a tourism centre for the Argentine elite. It took on a cosmopolitan architectural and urban profile. Growth in the city's tourist trade began in the 1930s, when local hotel occupancy grew from 1550 tourists in 1934 to 4000 in 1940. In 1934 Ezequiel Bustillo, then director of the National Parks Direction, contracted his brother Alejandro Bustillo to build several buildings in Iguazú and Nahuel Huapi National Park (Bariloche was the main settlement inside the park). In contrast to subtropical Iguazú National Park, planners and developers thought that Nahuel Huapi National Park, because of its temperate climate, could compete with the tourism of Europe. Together with Bariloche, it was established for priority projects by national tourism development planners.
Alejandro Bustillo designed the Edificio Movilidad, Plaza Perito Moreno, the Neo-Gothic San Carlos de Bariloche Cathedral, and the Llao Llao Hotel. Architect Ernesto de Estrada designed the Civic Centre of Barloche, which opened in 1940. The Civic Centre's tuff stone, slate and fitzroya structures include the Domingo Sarmiento Library, the Francisco Moreno Museum of Patagonia, City Hall, the Post Office, the Police Station, and the Customs.
During the 1950s, on the small island of Huemul, not far into lake Nahuel Huapi, former president Juan Domingo Perón tried to have the world's first fusion reactor built secretly. The project cost the equivalent of about $300 million modern US dollars, and it was never finished, due to the lack of the highly advanced technology that was needed. The Austrian Ronald Richter was in charge of the project. The facilities can still be visited, and are visible from certain locations on the coast.
In 1995, Bariloche made headlines in the international press when it became known as a haven for Nazi war criminals, such as the former SS Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke. Priebke had been the director of the German School of Bariloche for many years.
In his 2004 book Bariloche nazi-guía turística, Argentine author Abel Basti claims that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun lived in the surroundings of Bariloche for many years after World War II. Basti said that the Argentine Nazis chose the estate of Inalco as Hitler's refuge.
Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, published by British authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, proposed that Hitler and Eva Braun hid at Hacienda San Ramon, six miles east of Bariloche, until the early 1960s. Both these accounts are disputed by historians, who generally believe that Hitler and Braun died in the last days of World War II. Some credence to the theory of Hitler's alleged survival may be drawn from the fact that there are no photos of the dead Eva Braun, and the few photos of the "dead Hitler" appear to be dubious snaps of a different person, albeit with a "Hitler moustache".
Av de los Pioneros Km 5
Nahuel Huapi Lake
Nahuel Huapi National Park
Cacique Inacayal Lake & Spa Hotel is one of the top, premium places to lodge in Bariloche. Beautifully found nearby Patagonia Vinos, Casino De Bariloche and Ice Bariloche...
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