Mendoza is the capital city of Mendoza Province, in Argentina. It is located in the northern-central part of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, on the eastern side of the Andes. As of the , Mendoza's population was 110,993. The metropolitan population was 848,660 in 2001, making Greater Mendoza the fourth largest census metropolitan area in the country.
A major road between Argentina and Chile runs through Mendoza and the city is a frequent stopover for climbers on their way to climb Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere) or for other mountaineering, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, and other sports. In the winter, skiers come to the city for its easy access to the Andes.
On March 2, 1561, Pedro del Castillo founded the city and named it Mendoza after the governor of Chile, Don García Hurtado de Mendoza. Before this time it was populated by three tribes, the Huarpes, the Puelches, and the Incas. The Huarpes devised a system of irrigation that was later developed by the Spanish. This allowed for an increase in population that might not have otherwise occurred. The system is still evident today in the wide trenches that run parallel to the city streets. It is estimated that fewer than 80 Spanish settlers lived in the area before 1600, but later prosperity increased due to the use of indigenous and slave labor, and the application of the Jesuits present in the region. When rivers were tapped as a source of irrigation in 1788 agricultural production increased. The extra revenues generated from this, and the ensuing additional trade with Buenos Aires, no doubt led to the creation of the state of Cuyo in 1813 with José de San Martín as governor. From Mendoza San Martin would organize the army with which he won the independence of Chile and Peru.
Mendoza suffered a severe earthquake in 1861 that killed at least 5,000 people. The city was rebuilt, incorporating innovative urban designs that would better tolerate such seismic activity. Mendoza was rebuilt with large squares and wider streets and sidewalks than any other city in Argentina. San Martin street, and five main equidistant squares, are examples of that design. Tourism, wine production, and more recently the exploitation of hard commodities such as oil and uranium ensure Mendoza's status as a key regional centre.
The festival of the Vendimia represents the grape harvest in early March each year, where 17 beauty queens from each provincial district are nominated, and one winner is selected by a panel of about 50 judges. The queen from Mendoza City cannot be chosen because she acts as host for all other queens.
Mendoza has an intense cultural activity. There are several museums, including a natural history museum called Museo Cornelio Moyano in General San Martín Park and a Historical Foundational Area Museum called Museo del Área Fundacional located in the Pedro del Castillo Square. In Maipú, 15 km southeast from Mendoza, there is the Museo Nacional del Vino (National Wine Museum), which focuses on the history of winemaking in the area. In Mayor Drummond, 14 km south from Mendoza, there is the Emiliano Guiñazú - Casa de Fader art museum, hosted in an 1890 mansion where many walls have paintings by the artist Fernando Fader.
The city is centered around Independence Square (Plaza Independencia) with pedestrianized Sarmiento street running through its center. Other major streets, running perpendicular to Sarmiento, are 9 de Julio St., San Martín Avenue, and running parallel to Sarmiento are avenues Colón, Arístides Villanueva and Las Heras. Four additional plazas, San Martín, Chile, Italia, and España, are located 2 blocks off each corner of Independence Square. Unique to Mendoza's streets are the exposed stone ditches (small canals) which run alongside many of the roads supplying water to the many trees that provide welcome shade.
The Parque San Martín was designed by Carlos Thays. On its premises you can find a zoo, football stadiums, and the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. A view of the city is available from the top of the hill Cerro de la Gloria.
There are many Internet cafes and other establishments that offer wi-fi technology. Restaurants and wine bars on Arístides Villanueva Avenue become very active day and night during weekends and various types of accommodations are available including luxurious five star Park Hyatt Mendoza, facing Plaza Independencia and the soon to be finished Sheraton Hotel.
Mendoza is 1,037 kilometres from Buenos Aires (13 hours by bus) and 380 kilometres from Santiago, Chile (6-7 hours by bus). Mendoza also has an International Airport. It takes less than 2 hours to fly from Buenos Aires and less than 1 hour from Santiago, Chile.
The Mendoza public transport system includes buses, trolleybuses and taxis. The trolleybuses are more comfortable than the city buses, but are slower and not as numerous nor is the system as extensive as that for the buses. In 2008, Translink in Vancouver, Canada sold their old trolley fleet to Mendoza
A heritage railway or tourist railroad, "The Wine Train" (Tren del Vino) is being planned which will also provide local transportation, it will run along wine producing districts of Mendoza.
The Transandine Railway is a metre gauge line, with sections of rack, whilst the railways it links with are both broad gauge. A journey from Buenos Aires to Chile involved two breaks-of-gauge, and therefore two changes of train, one at Mendoza, and the other at Santa Rosa de Los Andes in Chile.
Throughout his career, the French director Jean-Jacques Annaud has prided himself on ambitious films that focus on the human heart in conflict with itself. But none compares to the scope and challenge of his 1997 film Seven Years In Tibet. To recapture the experience, Annaud literally rebuilt Tibet in Mendoza, Argentina. The dozens of spectacular sets ranged from a 220-yard long re-creation of the capital city of Lhasa (built in the foothills of the Andes), to a 9000-square-foot re-creation of the legendary Hall of Good Deeds in the Potala, the ancient palace of the Dalai Lama. (It was built in an abandoned garlic warehouse outside the city of Mendoza.)
Mendoza has wet summers with drier winters. Average temperatures for January (summer) are 32 °C (90 °F) during daytime, and 18.4 °C (65 °F) at night. For July (winter), the average temperatures are 14.7 °C (58 °F) and 2.4 °C (36 °F), respectively. Despite the intensity of agriculture possible due to irrigation from major rivers, Mendoza is classified as semi-desert. Annual rainfall is 223.2mm.