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Even to this day, agriculture in Argentina is one of the most important industries. Tucuman is a rural province that depends very much on farming and exporting agricultural goods. This province has always been one of the traditional sugar producing areas and, along with soya, sugar is widely produced here. This sweet, natural product was first introduced in Tucuman by the Jesuits in the 1700s, but it wasn’t until an ambitious clergyman developed the industry here in 1821 that the industry became truly profitable. This agricultural genius was called, José Eusebio Colombres (16 December 1778 – 11 February 1859) a bishop born into a wealthy aristocratic family in Tucuman. Obispo Colombres transformed the industry by mechanising and industrialising the process, thus boosting the region’s entire economy.
You can pay a visit to this bishop’s beautiful farmhouse and old sugar refinery in Tucuman city, which has been converted into the Museum of the Sugar Industry. This may not sound like the most exciting of museums, but Argentina Travel Guide considers it as a must-see in Tucuman. The property is a wonderful example of 19th Century architecture in Tucuman and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. In the past, the building served as a working sugar refinery, as well as, the headquarters of his company. You can still see the areas of the property where sugar was refined and carts unloaded. The structure is relatively simple compared to some of the Italian influenced properties of the time, like for example, Casa Padilla, which gives it rural charm.
The obispo Colombres has a fascinating personal history that you can discover in this museum, which is another reason, why you should pay his residency a visit. Colombres was one of the congressmen who signed the Declaration of Independence, in Tucuman 9th July, 1816. He was a dedicated supporter of the revolution and avidly followed the struggle for independence, right from the May Revolution, up until 1816. He also lived in exile in Bolivia due to the repression of the Argentine president and first de facto leader, Juan Manual de las Rosas.
The building is a treat to behold, with its rustic, terracotta tiles and white columns, which gives the place a lovely, Mediterranean feel. The museum and historic house is located in Parque 9 de Julio (in English, Ninth of July Park). A walking tour of the city should definitely include this museum and surrounding park space.