For a time, Asunción was an important city to the Spanish colonial administration. It was an easier sail from Spain: across the Atlantic, up the Río de la Plata, hop over to the Río Paraguay and use the growing port as a staging area to the rest of the South American heartland.Asunción developed along the river bank. To the east of the river, fertile land supported the growing population and the city thrived. Buildings from the colonial period attest to the prosperity of the city the Spanish enjoyed as almost a vacation resort.Much of the historical section, with its charming colonial buildings and plazas is near the river and is easily walkable. You should see:Plaza de los Héroes with the Panteón Nacional de los Héroes, characterized by its pink dome.Casa Viola was renovated, courtesy of the Spanish government, to mark the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. It is a prime example of early colonial architecture.Casa de la Independencia, where revolutionaries met in secret to plan their battle for independence, houses relics from the 1811 revolution.Plaza de la Independencia, where you'll see the Palacio Legislativo and the Catedral Metropolitana. The cathedral dates from 1687 and is notable for the very large gilded altar and religious art.Casa de los Diputados, once a military college and museum, and Palacio de Gobierno, which is not open to visitors, but you can admire the neoclassical facade.The Museo de Bellas Artes contains paintings and sculpture by Paraguayan and other South American artists, plus many historical documents. Beyond the city center:The Parque de Museo de Historia Natural is being revitalized and contains a small zoo, golf course, and camping area. The museum has exhibits of wildlife.The Gran Hotel del Paraguay was once the home of a mistress of Solano López, dictator between 1862-1870. The oldest hotel in Asunción, it has beautiful tropical gardens and a fine collection of furnishings and art. Tip: Asunción has a mild climate for most of the year except the summer months (October to March) when you should avoid touring in mid-day.