HD Masterpieces of Buenos Aires Architecture
Buenos Aires’ splendid architecture is certainly one of its greatest attractions; its eclecticism is a sign of the cultural synthesis that historically shaped Argentina’s national spirit. This exciting and learning journey will force us to keep our eyes open and our heads looking up, paying attention to certain details that would probably pass unnoticed in other tours.
Our starting point is naturally Plaza de Mayo, where we observe the most conspicuous of Buenos Aires’ colonial buildings: the Cabildo, primitive town hall built halfway through the 18th century and restored in 1940, due to the alterations suffered during the construction of Avenida de Mayo. We also admire the neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral. It was also built in the 18th century, but the actual façade dates from the 19th. Then, we see our Presidential Palace, known as the Pink House, due to a series of myths and legends around its peculiar color. The reason why its façade is asymmetrical is because there were originally two buildings that were united: the former Presidential Palace and the primitive Central Post Office, united with an arch by the great Italian architect Tamburini. Finally, we trace the tracks of monumetalism, a school so dear to Fascism, visible in the Ministry of Economics building.
Next, we walk across Avenida de Mayo, a tree-lined boulevard built in the late 19th century, when Paris was undisputedly the center of the world. Alongside the Avenue, many different-styled buildings were erected –Academicist, Borbonic, Italian, Neobaroque, Art-Nouveau and Art Déco, among other styles. Some of the buildings we’ll be seeing in more details are, among others, La Prensa, nowadays the House of Culture; the Vera Palace; the traditional Hotel Castelar; and the monumental Barolo Palace. At the other end of the avenue, which constitutes an axis between the Executive and Legislative branches, lays the Congress, inaugurated in 1906. Next to the Congress, we see the traditional El Molino tearoom, an impressive building which unfortunately remains closed.
Leaving Avenida de Mayo, we head for Puerto Madero, a cutting-edge urban renovation project initiated in 1991, which finally integrates the city to the river. First, a series of silos and cereal deposits located in the docks of a huge abandoned port district were recycled into upscale residential buildings, trendy restaurants and VIP nightclubs. Nowadays, Puerto Madero has become a sort of international district, concentrating the most ambitious real-estate and hotel investments. Here, we’ll stop at an area known as ‘Little Manhattan’, which concentrates a handful of state-of-the-art, intelligent buildings created by the greatest Argentinian architects, such as César Pelli and Mario Roberto Álvarez. Before we leave, we’ll see the Woman’s Bridge, created by Spanish genius Santiago Calatrava.
On our way to Recoleta, we’ll pass along the impressive Colón Theater, painstakingly built for 20 years, from 1889 to 1909. Unfortunately, it’s closed for renovations until 2008, so all we’ll be able to do is admire its wonderful façade. Then, we’ll visit Plaza San Martín, designed by French/Argentinian architect and landscape artist Charles Thays in the late 19th century. Around the square lie some of the city’s most conspicuous buildings: the former Palacio Paz, nowadays the Military Society, and the Kavanagh Building, South America’s first skyscraper, among others.
Once in Recoleta, we’ll visit the namesake Cemetery, one of Buenos Aires’ greatest attractions. Inaugurated in 1822, this true labyrinth of funeral monuments commissioned to some of the greatest artists of the last two centuries is the eternal home of the most conspicuous –and wealthy– figures in Argentine history, paradoxically including Eva Perón, who was a known enemy of the upper classes. Next to the Cemetery, we visit the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, a colonial church built in 1732 that is surprisingly well-preserved. We then walk across Alvear Avenue, where we observe the sumptuous palaces built by the Argentine aristocracy imitating France, such as the Ortíz Basualdo palace. After seeing the imposing neoclassical mass of Buenos Aires Law School, on Figueroa Alcorta Avenue, we’ll visit the peculiar Sanitation building, with its strange majolica façade, built in 1887. This strange French Renaissance palace was built entirely from detachable pieces.
House of Culture, Colón Theater, National Congress, Sanitation Palace, Recoleta Cemetery, Café Tortoni, Buenos Aires Law School, Metropolitan Cathedral, Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
Bilingual guide specializing in Buenos Aires’ Architecture.
Transportation and transfers in a comfortable, top of the line vehicle. Uniformed driver.
Brochure with extended information of the tour and Buenos Aires postcard.