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The "Mother of Cities" was founded in 1537, and declared independence from Spain in 1811. The charming historic section can be explored on foot. The friendly Paraguayan capital, gateway to the grassy Gran Chaco region, has long been a centre of music, poetry and the arts, but only in recent years has Asunción been able to escape its long history of rule by dictators. Sites to visit include Panteon Nacional de los Heroes, Casa de la Independencia and Catedral de Nuestra Senora de Asuncion.