MENDOZA is a mostly low-rise city, spread across the wide valley of the Río Mendoza, over 1000km west of Buenos Aires and less than 100km east of the highest section of the Andean cordillera – whose perennially snowcapped peaks are clearly visible from downtown. Its airy microcentro is less compact than that of most comparable cities, partly because the streets, squares and avenues were deliberately made wide when the city was rebuilt in the late nineteenth century, to allow for evacuation in the event of another major earthquake. Another striking feature is that every street is lined by bushy sycamore and plane trees – providing vital shade in the scorching summer months, they are watered by over 500km of acequias, or irrigation ditches, which form a natural, outdoor air-cooling system. Watch out, though, when you cross the city's streets, as the narrow gutters are up to a metre deep and often full of gushing water, especially in the spring when the upland snows melt.
The city has an attractive park and one or two museums that are worth taking a visit, but most people come to Mendoza principally to do a wine-tasting tour at the many bodegas in or near the city.