Historical Core (a.k.a. Picturesque BA)
Plaza De Mayo - San Telmo - La Boca (optional)
|The old 'Cabildo': the old Capitol (from 'Capitulum' or 'head' of the city --in Latin)
• Description: Semi-private tour (2-8 ppl. max.) Scroll (way) down for extensive details!
• When: Available 3:15pm (or ask!) daily 365 days/year, rain or shine
• Duration: approx. 3-4 hours
• Price: USD $65 p/p all tax included. A minimum of 2 people is required. Ask about single person and large group pricing. To add La Boca we charge US$25 p/p to cover additional taxi ride cost and time.
• Discounts: Each 7 people, one is free of charge (approx. 15% discount)
• Meet: Hotel pickup is available at downtown hotels for a small additional fee (USD $20) if you let us know with at least 24hs advance advise. Otherwise your guide will wait for you at the door, outside the 'Florida Garden' cafe, corner of 899 Florida St (with Paraguay St) on the main pedestrian street, downtown, holding a small 'BA-Walking-Tours' sign. Get printable, bilingual ('good-for-taxi' or asking) directions here, or see map here.
• Note: After this ultra-enjoyable walk you will understand Buenos Aires (and Argentina!!) much better. It includes over 25 main city landmarks (different from our other walks). This is not a strenuous walk and full itinerary will be covered depending on time and circumstances at time of tour. At some point in we'll stop for coffee or refreshments at some emblematic cafe of cultural or historical value. Snacks, drinks, hotel pickup, transportation, foot massage, mid-life-counseling, good sense of humour and gratuities are not included (actually massage, counseling and good sense of humour are not even available!).
• Some key sights:
- Monserrat: The earliest neighbourhood
- Cabildo (old City Hall)
- BA's Cathedral and San Martin's Mausoleum (here we explain how Argenina became a nation)
- National Bank
- Government House (its history and architecture explained)
- Monument to Manuel Belgrano (where the gallows used to be)
- Ministry Buildings (shrapnel still attests to recent coups -explained)
- The Piramid (and the Path of Mothers of the dissapeared)
- Bolivar St.: Manzana de las Luces ('Enlightment Square' -first center of wisdom and foundational university site)
- Oldest Shop, Oldest Church and Oldest house still preserved in the city
- Defensa St.
- St. Domingo Convent (here we explain the early British presence in 1806 and 1807)
- Viceroy Liniers' House (architecture in colonial times)
- Chile St (old city limit) & Minimal House
- Entering picturesque San Telmo neighbourhood (Massive Immigration and changes in the Architecture of BA)
- Evita & the School of Engineering
- Carlos Calvo Market
- Plaza Dorrego Park
- Belen Church & Martina Cespedes Story
- Ezeiza's Little Convent (a real 'conventillo' visit)
- Optionals (not included):
- Piccardo, Modern Art Museum & Onassis
- Cacciattore's Urban Highway
- Lezama Park
- National History Museum
- Pedro de Mendoza's Statue
- Russian Church
- James Brittain's "toll road" to La Boca
- La Boca (Caminito St., story) ...and much more!
Tour Outline (abbreviated): (click on pictures to toggle size)
In this walking tour we will show you a small portion of all Buenos Aires can offer: its originary neighbourhoods and history. Once you are familiar with these areas you will be able to access hundreds of interesting and fun places and activities on your own and without any help.
The Plaza de Mayo (Spanish: May Square) is the main historical square in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina; it is flanked by Hipólito Yrigoyen, Balcarce, Rivadavia and Bolívar streets. Several of the city's major landmarks are located around the Plaza: the Cabildo (the city council during the colonial era), the Casa Rosada (home of the executive branch of the federal government), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the current city hall or municipalidad, and the headquarters of the Nación (National) Bank. (top...)
The Buenos Aires financial district (microcentro), affectionately known as 'la City' (sic) also lies besides the Plaza. Buenos Aires (English: Fair Winds, originally 'Ciudad de la Santisima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires' (City of the Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Winds) is the capital of Argentina and its largest city and port. (top...)
The Casa Rosada (Pink House), officially known as the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), is the official residence of the President of Argentina. The Plaza de Mayo has always been the focal point of political life in Buenos Aires. Its current name commemorates the May Revolution of 1810, which started the process towards the country's independence from Spain in 1816. La Revolucion de Mayo (the May Revolution) was the first attempt at independence in the Viceroyalty of the River Plate, which contains present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. The Argentine War of Independence was fought from 1814 to 1816 by Argentine forces under Jose de San Martin against 'realista' forces (loyal to the Spanish crown).
On October 17, 1945, mass demonstrations in the Plaza de Mayo organised by the CGT (trade union federation) forced the release from prison of Juan Domingo Perón, who would later become president of Argentina. For several years the Peronist movement gathered every October 17th in the Plaza de Mayo to show their support for their leader (and October 17 is still "Loyalty Day" for the traditional Peronists). Many other presidents, both democratic and military, have also saluted people in the Plaza from the balcony of the Casa Rosada. (top...)
In 1955 the Plaza de Mayo was bombed by planes of a military faction trying to overthrow President/Dictator Perón, killing over 300 bystanders and wounding many more. Although the coup was aborted, three months later, the Revolución Libertadora ("Liberating Revolution") succeeded and staged its own demonstration in the same Plaza that used to be a symbol of Peronism. Years later, in 1974, Perón, then president for the third time, expelled from the Plaza the members of the Montoneros, an armed organisation that tried to influence the political orientation of the national government.
Crowds gathered once again on April 2, 1982 to hail de facto President Leopoldo Galtieri for starting the Falklands/Malvinas war. Since the late 1970s, this is where the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have congregated with signs and pictures of desaparecidos, their children, who disappeared (murdered) by the Argentine military in the Dirty War, during the National Reorganization Process. The Argentine military was anti-Communist, and people perceived to be supportive of such ideas would be illegally detained, subject to abuse and torture, and finally murdered in secret. (top...)
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo took advantage of the symbolic importance of the Plaza to open the public's eyes to what the military were doing. The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. Protests have continued on taking place, reaching well into the 2000s. On December 19, 2001, seven protesters were shot to their deaths and several others injured by police as they rioted around Plaza de Mayo. Nevertheless, Plaza de Mayo continues to be a tourist attraction for those that visit Buenos Aires, but those who want to visit the area remain advised to be careful about choosing the time to visit it. There is much, MUCH more to explain and show about Plaza de Mayo.
Next we visit the birthplace of the University of Buenos Aires (the 'Manzana de las Luces' or 'Enlightment Square') and we continue our walk visiting some of the most ancient buildings still standing in Buenos Aires. Later, as we start to walk towards the famous (and very old) San Telmo neighbourhood, we learn about the why & how of the early British invasions to Buenos Aires (1806 & 1807) and we walk to the Basilica of Santo Domingo, where the British where finally cornered (you can still see cannonballs incrusted in the towers). Completed in 1783, this church housed the Natural History Museum and astronomic observatory under President Rivadavia. In 1835, the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas repatriated the Dominicans friars and in 1856 the second tower was built. An atrium houses the Mausoleum of Gral. Manuel Belgrano (the creator of the Argentine flag, who was born and died near the church). This work by Hector Ximenez (1903) has a large base of red granite with two bas-reliefs representing the presentation of the Flag and the Battle of Tucuman.
As we continue southwards we visit the house where Viceroy Liniers lived (he was considered a hero in 1807 when he defeated the British and executed as a traitor when he opposed the declaration of independence from Spain). We learn about early architecture in the colonies and its evollution, and start visiting the many wonders San Telmo has to offer: fascinating houses, antique stores, the old indoors market, the outdoors one (Plaza Dorrego) where Independence was sworn, and the chuch that gave origin to the neighbourhood's name.
We explain immigration, history and architectural evolution of Buenos Aires by exploring houses like that of the Ezeiza Family, a well-preserved example of 19th-century patrician architecture, transformed circa 1880 into a conventillo (multi-family home foor the poor & immigrant) and later into a two-story antique market. Today, only the bottom level is being used by antique dealers. Continuing along, we visit the foundational place oof Buenos Aires (Lezama Park) where the first founder --Buenos Aires was founded twice-- is said to have been sieged and chased awaay by the local aborigines, the Querandi indians.
The neighborhood of La Boca is a spot that every Buenos Aires traveler should experience. There is a reason that so many tourists make La Boca a priority on their itinerary, and once you are there you will soon be overwhelmed by its charm and understand exactly why.
La Boca has a unique and diverse history that is represented by the unique and diverse color scheme of each passing home, restaurant, shop, grocery store, or any other business. Between 1880 and 1930, approximately 6 million foreign immigrants landed in the port of La Boca and liked what they saw so much that they decided to stay. The diversity had a huge effect on this area and its new inhabitants due to the different backgrounds of the settlers. As they began constructing homes their supplies were limited, especially their supplies of paint. And as a solution they used any and all leftover paint they could find or afford from the shipyard. The result of this painting frenzy was a one of a kind neighborhood that was adorned with every color of the rainbow.
The effect is very fun and animated and something you have to see to believe. It has drawn much attention to this port neighborhood since the early days of construction and consequently they have decided to maintain that tradition. Even today with the availability of new colors and supplies, the bright paint is symbolic of La Boca and gives it more character than you can possibly imagine.
Caminito is the main street of the area that is typically full of color, tango dancers, artists, and tourists with an excited trigger finger on their camera. The local artists spread their works of art across the streets to fill the lively outdoor market with displays and all kinds of fun. Each small door you pass opens up to an exciting world inside that offers every type of souvenir imaginable. On the weekends there is also the Feria de la Ribera, an arts and crafts market, set up outside.
Many people like to pick a dining spot while in La Boca and soak in the surroundings. There are many restaurants that come with twirling tango dancers, live tango music, and maybe even a request of your hand to try on your dancing shoes as well. But the locals are well aware of the tourist pocketbook and charge high prices. However high prices in La Boca are still cheap by American standards, and it may just be worth the money because it’s all part of the fun experience.
So you found the market, Caminito, the art work, some grub, and so now what? The Boca Juniors Futbol Stadium! If you have arrived on a game day, you will know. The futbol spirit is contagious and watching a game in Argentina is unlike any experience you will ever have. As the die hard fans wave their flags and yell out their Boca Juniors chants you will be amazed by the enthusiasm of the locals.
At the end of the day, you will be very glad you ventured to La Boca and will have made a day full of wonderful memories. Touristy? Well….yes; but also a very important part of the Argentine history and culture. And without a doubt a very fun place to spend part of your time in Buenos Aires.