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
The original church stood on this site starting in 1593 and like so many other buildings, went through many different variations (due to shoddy construction and other reasons) before finally settling on it's current neo-classical design; concluded in 1911. The facade columns represent Jesus apostles, and the memorial contains the final resting place of General Jose de San Martin, General Guido, General Las Heras and the symbolic tombs of the unknown soldiers. The eternal flame (votive candle) is dedicated to General San Martin who is also known as the "Liberator of Argentina"?in other words, The MAN!!
Weekdays 8am to 7pm, Saturday 9am to 12:30pm and again from 5pm to 7:30pm and Sundays from 9am to 2pm and again from 4pm to 7:30pm. Guided tours are available from 4pm to 7pm. Check out the changing of the guard, basically every 2 hours on the odd hour.
During the military dictatorship of the late 70s and early 80s was a time of what was called the Dirty Wars. If you were a dissident, or even if people thought you were, your life was in danger. And literally thousands of men and women simply disappeared. For a more accurate assessment of this time, I suggest you take a look at Wade's pages (wadekorzan). The long and short of it is that many mothers lost their children, and there are these paintings of headscarves in the ground that are a reminder of these children. The mothers march with these scarves on their heads with the names of their missing children written on them. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live in Bs As during that time, but to loose your child, to have him or her just disappear, would seem like the worst kind of pain imaginable.
This may indeed be the original oblisk, and is located in the middle of the Plaza de Mayo. The original Piramide De Mayo was built in 1811 and made from clay brick. Over the years the Piramide has been rebuit a few times, and was originally erected to celebrate the first anniversary of the May Revolution. The current version on display was built by Pridilano Pueyrredon and actually is built around the original one.
Even if you don't have an opportunity to visit the interior of the Casa Rosada, you almost have to walk by Casa Rosada some time during your visit to Buenos Aires. Located near the Plaza de Mayo, the pink hued Casa Rosada was made famous, at least here in the US, by the movie "Evita" starring Madonna, it was from the balcony here that Eva Peron rallied the masses and Madonna, portraying her, was filmed singing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina". I defy you not to hum the tune as you are walking by!
There are two theories regarding the pink color of the building, the first is the color scheme was the fusion of the red and white colors of the country's opposing political parties, a second theory states that the original paint contained cow blood to prevent damage from humidity.
We didn't have a chance to visit the interior, the guidebooks say that the Presidential museum there is free and that it is possible to tour the interior if you reserve in advance at the museum's front desk although the tour does not go out on that famous balcony and and you don't get to belt out "Don't Cry for me Argentina".
For Evita fans, this is probably the top spot on your list of spots related to the former first lady of Argentina. It was from the balcony of the presidential palace, lovingly referred to as the Pink House, that Eva Peron led her infamous rallies. The official name of the building is the Casa de Gobierno. It was built in 1873.
There is a museum at the back of the building (no admission).