As old as the city that formed around, Plaza de Mayo, with its palm trees and its river breath, witnessed not only the everyday comings and goings of the locals, but also the passing of Argentine history.
Plaza de Mayo is one of the most important stages in Argentina's history, and a must for your visit to Buenos Aires. So, here we share with you the keys to discover and fall in love with this place as a true Creole.
It is the oldest square in Buenos Aires. There, Juan de Garay founded the city for the second time over four centuries ago-on June 11, 1580, baptized at that time as Santísima Trinidad. Around this space was growing the urban fabric of what would end up becoming the political center of the country. The name was chosen in honor of the revolution of May 25, 1810, which took place there and gave the first push to the Declaration of Independence.
When you walk stepping on the paving of the square you can go drawing an imaginary timeline to help you recreate the great stories that happened here. You can imagine, on the origin of its time, how the scene of bullfighting was. Or you can stand right in front of the Cabildo and imagine the Creoles under umbrellas waiting for the good news of the revolutionaries, on May 25, 1810. Also you can walk to the opposite end of the square and pay special attention to the central balcony of the Government House (Casa Rosada). From there Evita spoke to her "shirtless", so she called workers and followers of her husband, Juan Domingo Perón, who was one of the most legendary presidents of Argentina. And who was ousted in 1955 during an air raid that left several scars on the surrounding buildings. In the center of the square there are several “scars”. Contemplate the circle of silhouettes painted around the Pyramid which represents the lasting memory of mothers and grandmothers who claim their children and grandchildren disappeared during the last military dictatorship. From that same place every Thursday since 1977 they march for justice. But this square was –and still is- spontaneous home to major celebrations like the return to democracy in 1983, or Argentina football frenzy after the World Championships in 1978 and 1986. Anyway, Plaza de Mayo is always the epicenter of the great popular movements that happen in Argentina.
The Mayo Pyramid has almost as many years as the historical revolution: it was installed in 1811 to celebrate the first anniversary of the patriotic event. Shaped obelisk topped by a figure representing freedom, the monument should be located right in the center of the square, but it wasn´t. It turns out that due to a miscalculation, when it was moved in 1911, the Pyramid was run one meter to the left of the exact middle. To prove it with your eyes, you can stand in the path of Bolivar, up to the axis of the Avenida de Mayo, looking of course to the side of Casa Rosada.Between the Mayo Pyramid and the Government House, it´s located the monument to Manuel Belgrano, one of the heroes of independence, and the creator of the national flag. Made of bronze, the work shows the hero riding with a big flag facing the Casa Rosada. His silhouette with the front line is one of the most epic postcards of the city.
Until the late 19th century, the square consisted, in fact, of two squares: the Arms Square by the river side, and the Victoria Square by the Cabildo side. When in 1890 the road that crossed the square (Defensa Street) was closed, Carlos Thays-the landscaper who designed most of Buenos Aires green spaces - transformed the squares into one and gave the appearance that we know today. He dismounted the ground and put it up to the surrounding soil, designed spaces for gardens and cross like paths , renewed stonemasons, left eight palms and transplanted the rest to Palermo, and installed various species of trees as jacaranda trees, bananas and ceibos, among others. Throughout this process, the water fountains and the two clocks that, at present, are solar powered were added.
Like any respecting city center, Plaza de Mayo is surrounded by several historical and governmental buildings: the Cabildo -the character of the revolution of 1810, the Metropolitan Cathedral – last residence of Pope Francis before the Vatican, Casa Rosada –where you can find the famous balcony of Peron and Evita, the Government Palace of the City, the building of the National Bank, the Economy Ministry and the starting point of the elegant Avenida de Mayo and of diagonals north and south. Below the square there´s a universe as intense as above the surface, there you can find subway stations Cathedral (Line D), Bolívar (Line E) and Plaza de Mayo (Line A).
They are another historic institution of the square, but you must know that they were not always there, but its presence is relatively new. It turns out that one day a kind of fanatic pigeon breeder took his pigeons to wander around the area. Apparently, the people of Buenos Aires city liked the idea and encouraged the man to visit the place more often. When he died in 1937, pigeons decided to make the green space their home and stay there as owners and history witnesses.
Restaurants, bars & nightlife
Where chefs eat: Seba García
10 Argentinian meals you must try
City bookstores with their own charm
Buenos Aires Racetrack: the charm of spending a day at the racetrack
5 tips for recognizing a delicious Argentine steak
The Paris of South America: 10 palaces porteños that you have to know
Argentine Leather: What's the secret?
Art in Buenos Aires: 5 paintings you can´t miss
Cool taverns: definite guide of cool taverns in Buenos Aires
Getting into the cow: the most famous beef cuts in Argentina
Argentine pizza–everything you need to know (and where to try the best options)
Where tasting the best Argentinean malbecs in Buenos Aires?