Visit Argentina's most iconic public square: Plaza de Mayo (May Square)
Known as “the heart of the city”, Plaza de Mayo is located in the limit between Montserrat and San Nicolas, two of the oldest neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires. In fact, this is the exact place where the city was founded in 1580, so there is plenty to see and do around the area.
Upon arival it is easy to grasp that this is not just an ordinary park. This is one of the most significant historic and political spots in the whole country, since many of Argentina’s most remarcable political events took place in or around it. This is the chosen place by “porteños” (Buenos Aires’ residents) for political celebrations, but also for demonstrations and protests: The place where millions of people gather from time to time, to both show their support or their disappointment towards the authorities and their decitions.
It is very likekly that you come across a huge crowd gathered in the square during your visit (demonstrations take place at least once a week in Buenos Aires). As exciting as it might seem to take part in these typical public demonstrations that are a symbol of Argentina’s love for democracy, we strongly suggest you to avoid the square if there are any special events unless you are in company of a local, as not understanding local codes might get you in trouble and the atmosphere can get dangerous some times.
While in the square, these are a couple spots you should not miss:
- Pirámide de Mayo (Pyramid of May)
Inaugurated in 1811, it is the country’s first monument to be built. Located at the center of the square, it pays homage to the revolution which took place there on May, 25, 1810 and was the beginning of Argentina’s path towards independence.
If you look down at the floor, you will see white symbols painted on the floor around the pyramid. This is the place where “Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo” (Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo” have been gathering every Thursday and walking around the pyramid since the late 70s asking for justice for their sons and daughters disappeared during the last dictatorship (1976-1983). The scarves represent the nappies of their children.
- Casa Rosada (Government House)
On the east side of the square, it is not hard to spot a very particular and beautiful pink building. It is the seat of the Executive power, hosting the President’s main office.
Towards the left side of the main archway, on the first floor, there is world famous balcony. You might know it from the film “Evita” (the one having Madonna in the leading role). The film director, Alan Parker, got special permission to film in that historic balcony, that was onced used by president Juan Perón to give speeches to people gathered at the square accompanied by his wife, María Eva Duarte de Perón.
- Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan cathedral)
Just opposite the square, a neoclassic façade caughts visitors eyes. Although not very church alike (i.e. no towers, no belfries), this is the most important Catholic Church in the whole country. In fact, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, better known as Pope Francis, officed mass there after being designed as metropolitan archbishop (prior being elected Pope in 2013).
Inside the church, on the right side, there is a huge mausoleum that pays homage to General José de San Martín, considered the father of the Nation. Two soldiers guarding the gate will probably catch your eye. They are grenadiers, an Army created by Gral. San Martín during the time of the independence wars (early 1800s). If you are not in a rush we recommend you to attend a very significant and meaningful ceremony that takes place here a couple times a day: the change of guards every two hours. They come in a group from the Pink House, replace the two of them standing there and the rest go back to Government House (ask for the ceremony schedule once in the church, as it changes times often trhough out the year).
Towards the west side, opposite the square, one of the few buildings with Spanish architecture still kept in the city can be found: It is easy to spot, with its traditional white adobe walls and green doors and windows. It was the seat of the Town Council during Viceroyalty times. Today, it is a museum keeping alive part of our history during May revolution times.
Experience the essence of Microcentro at Florida street
Florida is the most important pedestrian shopping street in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It is a very important tourist attraction, showing the hustle and bustle that has always distinguished Buenos Aires downtown. Watch how a tide of shoppers, office workers, buskers and tango dancers and singers crowd the street at rush hour. Along its way, you will find a wide variety of stores, arcades and souvenir shops.
On the corner of Florida street and Córdoba avenue, an astonishing building will capture your attention: Galerías Pacífico, one of the most important shopping centers in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In it, you will find important local and international brands, but even if you are not fond of shopping, we suggest you to visit this place, which is a national historic building with wonderful architecture, to admire the central dome and the murals painted on it by important local artists.
A good option: having a break at the food court.
Admire the architecture in Galería Güemes
Location: Florida 165, San Nicolás, Buenos Aires.
Designed by the Italian architect Francisco Gianotti in art-nouveau style and finished in 1915, it offers a perfect combination of shops, apartments and offices.
A gem in the building: a theatre and tango academy located in the basement. The beautiful art-nouveau decoration is amazing.
One of its most important highlights is the viewpoint on the 14th floor, from where you will enjoy a panoramic view towards the city and admire unbelievable domes. Not to be missed!
Walk along Buenos Aires most iconic Avenue: 9 de Julio
This amazing avenue crossing the city from south to north was formerly known as the widest street in the whole world. In some cases, in order to cross it you will have to go trhough up to 20 lanes! It is more than 110 yards (100 meters) wide.
Its name honours Independence Day in Argentina.
The first part was opened in 1936, but it was completely finished in the ‘70s. Lot of time, right? One of the reasons: a whole block of buildings and houses had to be demolished all along its way to give way to progress.
Beautiful trees line the avenue, with an outstanding beauty in spring, specially in November when jacaranda trees are in full blossom and paint the city in purple with their beautifull flowers.
Take a selfie featuring the city's most iconic monument: the Obelisk
Location: Av. 9 de Julio and Av. Corrientes.
This is the most important symbol in the city.
Inaugurated in 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first Spanish settlement, it is much more than a simple monument: it is a meeting point for celebrations (specially those related to soccer, such as the national team’s victories and local clubs championships) and demonstrations.
Just a few steps from the Obelisk, you can find the traditional “BA” green letters, the perfect spot to take wonderful pictures.
Watch a live performance at Latin America's top Opera House
Location: Tucumán 1171, Buenos Aires.
The Colon Theater was built in 1908, and it was designed by three architects, all of whom left their traces in the design. The main auditorium amazes visitors with its wonderful dome painted by a local artist and a beautiful chandelier.
Due to its almost flawless acoustics, it is considered among the five best concert theatres in the world. Because of this we recommend you to watch a live performance (even if you are not very fond of music). The whole experience feels like traveling back in time to the Europe of the Renaissance.
This season will feature very important ballet productions, like “Giselle and The Sleeping Beauty”; and as always, concerts by the excellent local Philharmonic Orchestra.
Interesting fact: rehearsals are free, as well as some of the performances. Plus, the theater also offers daily tours to appreciate its beautifull architecture and understand a little bit more about its history and importance.
Definitely not to be missed while staying in Buenos Aires, also known as the cultural capital of Latin America.
Discover Corrientes Avenue
Usually known as “Calle Corrientes” (Corrientes Street), it is one of the bussiest areas in Microcentro. In the old days, there were many cinemas all along its way. Today it can be compared to Broadway Avenue in NYC, as dozens of theatres, cafés, restaurants, and bookshops complete a very particular landscape.
In contrast with Colón Theater (home to classic music and performances), Corriente’s theaters are preferred by locals due to the simplicity of the shows, most of them related to popular genres such as stand ups and musical comedies.