“Argentina Freedom Trail” Self-Guided Walking Tour
Discover the history of our country on foot at your own pace in this “Argentina Freedom Trail Self-Guided Walking Tour”.
Created by our local experts, these trip notes give you detailed mile-by-mile descriptions, with all the information you need for a smooth experience around Buenos Aires’ old town through which you will gain in-depth knowledge about the May Revolution and Argentinian independence.
This self-guided tour covers 2.3 miles (3.5 km) and should take you three/four hours to complete it. You will also find several “cafés” on the way, so that you can take a break and then go on.
Starting point: Plaza de Mayo, where everything began
If for any reason you can only choose one place to visit in Buenos Aires, then our suggestion is to make it this one, as Plaza de Mayo is the beating heart of the city.
Believe it or not, this public square is as old as the city itself. It was there that Juan de Garay, a Spanish militar, officially founded the city of Buenos Aires in 1580, almost 50 years after a previous attempt to establish a settlement a couple miles south of the square abruptly failed.
Ever since the square became a political, financial and administrative hub, around which the city began taking shape. Over the centuries, the “Plaza de Mayo” has witnessed not only the everyday comings and goings of the locals, but also the passing of Argentine history, having become a symbol of disaster, rebellion, and hope.
This self-guided tour takes you to the most important historic buildings and monuments on the square and surroundings, starting with:
Stop A – Pirámide de Mayo (May pyramid)
Impossible to miss, this tall white monument located right in the middle of “Plaza de Mayo” is considered to be the first ever monument of Argentina.
Placed at the square in 1811, it was built to celebrate the first anniversary of one of the major historical events in the country: The “May Revolution”, which took place at “Plaza de Mayo” between May 20th and May 25th 1810 and it is known to be the first step towards independence from Spain (declared in 1816).
Fun fact: the original pyramid was smaller than the one you will see and it is protected inside this big one.
A female figure crowns the top, as the representation of “the Republic”.
Stop B: Casa Rosada (Pink house, seat of the Executive Power)
Formerly overviewing the river, the first building to take this spot was Buenos Aires’ fort, originally built for the defense of the town in case of invasions.
In 1810, after the “May Revolution”, the building was used as the official residence of the president of the “Primera Junta” (first local government, which replaced the Spanish authorities previously in charge).
Towards one side of “Casa Rosada”, you will find the “Museo del Bicentenario” (Bicentennial Museum). Built in a remaining structure of that old fort, it opened in 2010 during the festivity that honored the bicentennial of the “May Revolution”.
Stop C – Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral)
Located on the north side of “Plaza de Mayo”, this is the most important church in the city, although not the oldest. It has recently become world renowned as Pope Francis’ former parish, before he was elected Pope and went to the Vatican back in 2013.
It may be hard to find it at first, as it does not really look like a church. Instead, at first sight you may think that the building hosts a theater, the court house, or even a bank… anything but a church.
Built in a neoclassical style, it has a 12-column façade, which significantly sets it apart from the adjoining buildings.
The architecture and design are amazing both from the outside and inside, where beautiful altarpieces, pulpits and works of art delight visitors’ eyes.
On the right aisle, a magnificent mausoleum pays homage to Gral. José de San Martín. Considered “the Father of the Nation”, he had a crucial role in the wars for Independence by founding the Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers and later on by leading the Army of the Andes across and over the second highest mountain range in the World to free Chile from Spanish rule. The mausoleum is guarded by two Grenadiers, who change guard every two hours performing a very formal ceremony you should definitely watch at least once during your stay in Buenos Aires.
Inside the mausoleum you will find three sculptures, representing the three countries he fought to liberate: Argentina, Chile and Perú.
Stop D – The “Cabildo” (old town hall)
This church-like building is one of the few examples of Spanish architecture still found in modern Buenos Aires. It used to be much larger on the sides, but some of the arches were lost to give way to the avenues you will see on the right/left of the building.
During colonial times it was used as a town council and a place for the authorities. Important meetings were held in it and it was a jail too.
It was also the seat of many events during the “May Revolution” and for that reason nowadays the building hosts the “Museo Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo” (National Museum of the Cabildo and May Revolution), where you will find a lot of paintings, clothes and historical artifacts.
Stop E – Basílica Nuestra Sra. del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary’s Basilica)
Location: Belgrano Av. and Defensa St., Montserrat district, Buenos Aires.
Only a couple of minutes walk from Plaza de Mayo, you will find this historic church that houses the mausoleum of another of our independence heroes: General Manuel Belgrano, who also happens to be the designer of Argentina’s national flag. The mausoleum is the work of Italian sculptor Ettore Ximenes.
Traveling back in time, these lands were given to the Dominican religious order at the start of the 18th century, whose convent is located next to the church. Construction of the church began in 1751 but was not finished until the end of the 18th century.
An interesting fact is that British soldiers took refuge in this church during their attempted invasion of the city in 1807. During the battles, the left tower was damaged by the cannonballs. as it was rebuilt wooden pieces were left in the walls representing those damages (can you spot them in the picture?).
Flags captured from the British forces still remain inside the church, as well as a pair of emblems that General Belgrano captured from the Spanish royalist army during the Independence Wars.
This is a hidden gem of the city and even though it is very near the main tourist attractions, only a few intrepid travelers know about it… now you are one of them!
Finish point – Plaza San Martin (San Martin Square)
It is worth walking all the way through the financial district of Buenos Aires to San Martin Square as it has one of the best views in the city.
But this place also has historical importance as a decisive battle took place here during the second British invasion of Buenos Aires in 1807, and, in 1812, General San Martín chose the area to locate the barracks of his Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers, and that is why the square was named Plaza San Martín, to mark the centenary of the independence hero’s birth in 1878.
On one side of this square, towards Av. Santa Fe, you will find an equestrian monument paying homage to him. Placed here in 1862, this is a replica of another monument located in Santiago de Chile, both made by Louis Joseph Daumas. Around the sculpture, you will find references to important milestones related to American independence.
The square is located in Retiro neighborhood and its current design owes much to French landscaper Charles Thays, who designed many of Buenos Aires’ parks and squares.
We hope that you have enjoyed the Argentina Freedom Trail Self-Guided walking tour, and that you could gain a deeper and better understanding of our culture and history.
If you wish to keep exploring Buenos Aires city by foot make sure to take a look at this Small-Group Street Art Walking Tour with Empanadas Cooking Class and Wine Tasting Experience in Buenos Aires’ bohemian distric and this Small-Gropu Walking Tour of Buenos Aires’ French-Styled Fancy Neighborhood.
In case you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, we are just a message away, ready to help you and hoping to see you soon around here to say: “Welcome to Buenos Aires”.