Our city tour paused at the main square--Plaza de Mayo--the tall monument in the photo commemorates the May Revolution of 1810 which led to Chile's independence from Spain (1816). It is the site of much political turmoil in past and recent years.
The Casa Rosada seen in the background (The Pink House) is an executive administrative building where the President works. It also contains the personal items of former Presidents of Argentina. Hours are Tues.-Fri. 9 am-6 pm; Sun. 3pm-6 pm.
The Metropolitan Cathedral and the Cabildo (city council) are located near this square, also.
Much like Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, Avenida de Mayo links the legislative branch to the executive branch in a very literal fashion. The avenue is lined with trees and many important hotels, buildings, and cafes – Café Tortoni for one – can be found along its length. As well, lying underneath is BsAs first subway line – the A line – which dates back to 1913 – the first subway in Latin America.
Restored in 1949, the original 1725-1785 construction – which replaced a 1610 building – was the seat of Spanish colonial power. Today, it is an important museum housing collections dating back to colonial times and from the time of the Wars of Independence. The tower is smaller than the original, as is the building itself, in general, which used to take up the entire west side of the Plaza de Mayo.
The Casa de Gobierno dates back to the early 19th century, though officially the house of executive power since 1862 – even though it wasn’t until 1880 that BsAs was designated the country’s capital. Pink is the color reflecting the melding of Federal – red – and Unitarian – white – political power. Unlike the White House, the President does not actually live here – that compound is about 12 km to the northwest in the suburb of Olivos. On the south side of the building is a museum holding exhibits dealing with the many Argentine presidents. There is also a colorful changing of the guards every two hours from 0700 to 1900.
This square is at the eastern terminus of the Avenida de Mayo and is surrounded by buildings of the executive branch of government: the Casa Rosada, the National Bank, the Municipal Government buildings, as well as the old Congress building, the Cabildo Museum and the Cathedral. The plaza was BsAs’ original public square, laid out facing the Cabildo, the seat of government in colonial times and much larger then. Here in the plaza, major events in Argentine history have unfolded: 1810 May Revolution, 1816 affirmation of the Tucuman declaration of independence, 1860 constitution was announced, countless addresses by presidents like Juan Peron and countless protests like the Madres and Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo who continue their fight on behalf of their children – los Desparecidos – who disappeared during the horrible years of the Dirty War.
Built on the site of an earlier church dating to 1593, the Cathedral, itself, dates to 1752-1852 with a decorative 1911 refurbishment. Outside, the eternal flame of San Martin burns. Inside, the main nave leads to a glorious main altar with floors of Venetian marble. On the left side is the Santo Cristo de Buenos Aires Chapel containing a carving of Jesus dating to 1671. On the right side is the tomb of General Jose de San Martin draped with a huge Argentine flag. San Martin is the nation’s temporal saint – forgotten in his own lifetime by the anarchical Unitarian-Federalist struggles following his successful campaigns in the Wars of Independence. Here, in the Cathedral, Argentina tries to make it up to her hero in a way that outdoes all of those who are over in la Recoleta.
Plaza de Mayo is the most famous square in Argentina. It is named after the May revolution of 1810. This is where the Case Rosada and the Metropolitan Cathedral are located. In the center is a monument dedicated to Jose de San Martin, who is known as the liberator of South America. He is credited with freeing Argentina, Chile and Peru. There are protests there several times each week. Many of them are the mothers of those who disappeared during the late 1970s. The military dictatorship of that time abducted and murdered thousands of people, many of whom have never been found.
Before you go to Plaza de Mayo, you might want to ask a porteno if any significant protests are planned for that day. They are typically organized well in advance.
One of the most recognizable buildings in Argentina, the Casa De Gobierno (Governors House) is located in the east end of the Plaza de Mayo. Also known as the Pink House, the original structure (a post office) was built in 1580, with the current structure taking it's shape and color in 1882 under the direction of President Julio Argentino Roca. It's said the building gets its distinctive pink color from a mixture of bovine blood and grease, which was used back in the day to make the building waterproof. There are other stories, of course, but I'll go with this one.
It's quite a remarkable building with the famous balconies where Juan Peron gave his speeches and his wife, the famous Evita Peron also made her appearances. The first statesman to make an appearance on the balcony was President Julio Argentino Roca, who spoke to the people on August 12, 1901, but it was Peron who turned it into a symbol of his relationship with the proletariat.
In 1957 the museum was created to exhibit objects belonging to former presidents and to the government patrimony.
Guided tours are available Monday to Friday, 3pm to 5pm. 4344-3802, but be prepared to show proper ID.
Plaza de Mayo is a huge square in central Buenos Aires and is home to some of the city´s most important buildings. As the city's main square, it's always busy and is a good place to begin exploring the city.
Buenos Aires' cathedral, the president´s home and the central bank are all on the square as well as the Cabildo building, associated with the 1810 revolution. Plaza de Mayo is a popular place for marches, the most famous of which takes place every Thursday afternoon, with the Madres de los Desaparecidos (Mothers of the Disappeared) marching around the monument with pictures of their children who disappeared during the Dirty War in the 1970s.
Located next to the Cabildo is the Palacio De Gobierno Buenos Aires. It's quite a beautiful European style building. The Clarin calls the architecture "German-French-Italian" Haha, yep, that about covers it. Designed by Juan Buschiazzo, it was built by Giovanni Cagnoni between 1891 and 1902. In the construction marble, Mosaic and crystal were removed from a house located on Peru Street, expropriated from the Zuberbuhler family.
Open for visits Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm to 5pm
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