Monuments, buildings and overall historical landmarks in Buenos Aires are an essential part of the country’s identity and crucial to understanding more about the personality, cultural background and sense of patriotism of its people.
Buenos Aires has a rich history embedded in every single monument, building, square and cathedral dating back even to the pre-colonial period. Consider the following list of the most important historical landmarks in Buenos Aires and organize your trip:
Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral
Argentina is officially a Catholic country, which means that this landmark is truly relevant in this country. The main Catholic church in the city is also the place where national heroes are buried, such as General José de San Martí n, key figure in Argentina’s struggle for independence.
The exterior of the cathedral has elements of both the 18th century architecture (naves and dome) and the 19th century Neoclassical structure. Inside the cathedral, there are several symbolic architectural structures, such as the statue of 3 women—representing the nations of Peru, Chile and Argentina—guarding General San Martín’s sarcophagus.
The cathedral is located right in the center of the city, on the corner of Rivadavia and San Martín streets, overlooking Plaza de Mayo.
Plaza de Mayo
The oldest square in the city, Plaza de Mayo, is crucial to the city’s history, built in 1580 by Juan de Garay, during Buenos Aires’ second and final settlement attempt. The square is also surrounded by important landmarks, built at different times in history, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, from the 18th century, the Mayo Pyramid and the national and local government offices, built in late 19th and 20th century.
This square resonates historically mainly due to the fact that in 1810, at that square, the May Revolution took place, event that led to Argentine independence. Additionally, several famous protesting groups, such as Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of May Square) have carried out demonstrations at that plaza since 1977.
Plaza de Mayo is considered one of the most popular historical landmarks in Buenos Aires, receiving thousands of tourists every day, as well as a political and social platform, where dozens of protests and demonstrations take place every year.
National Historical Museum
This building presently houses the National Historical Museum, although it was originally built as a colonial mansion. The museum today houses some of the most important documents and artifacts of significance to Argentine history that date back as far back as the 16th century.
Several items recovered from the Jesuit missions and war artifacts from the battle of Independence are on display inside the museum. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most prominent historical landmarks in Buenos Aires. Additionally, the building houses the bedroom of General José de San Martín, which was brought in and re-assembled in the museum.
Manzana de Las Luces
Known as the Block of Enlightenment, this intellectual hub dates back to the colonial era when it was occupied by the Jesuit order. Before being ousted from Argentina in 1767, the order built one of the oldest churches in the city, the San Ignacio church.
The place where the first post-Independence meeting of Congress was held, Virreinales, is also located in this block. In addition, at the Manzana de las Luces you can also find a series of old tunnels, built in the 17th century, that connect the Patio de la Procuraduría de las Misiones building—a 1730 building where goods were supervised and products were sold to locals to support the religious order—to the Fort, the river, the Cabildo (town council) and several other notable historical landmarks in Buenos Aires.
La Recoleta Cemetery
This the first public cemetery in Buenos Aires and one of the major historical landmarks in Buenos Aires. Located in Recoleta neighborhood, this cemetery was built after a lethal yellow fever plague devastated the city and claimed thousands of lives, and, at the beginning, was destined only as a burial place for Buenos Aires’ wealthiest citizens.
Additionally, at this cemetery prominent Argentinian leaders, military generals and aristocrats such as Bartolome Mitre (who was the first president of Argentina) José Paz and Eva Perón (after her body was re-discovered in 1971) are buried. Recoleta Cemetery was opened in 1822 and is still a major tourist site in Buenos Aires today.
The Cabildo (town council), also located in Plaza de Mayo, was built by the Spanish government headquarters during colonial times. The building’s construction began in the early part of the 17th century and the major construction works were completed in 1764.
The building has now been converted to a museum to commemorate the 1810 May Revolution, which marks the beginning of Argentina’s independence from Spain. The Cabildo hosts a craft fair for local artisans to display their wares to the public on Thursdays and Fridays every week.
This building stands as a historical monument of the Argentinian dictatorship that took place between 1976 and 1983. The building was a center of detention, torture and extermination by a tyrannical military government on about 30,000 Argentinians called desaparecidos, who were seized during the period and disappeared till date without a trace.
Although the main building of Club Atlético was demolished in 1977 during a highway construction project, the historical site is still open to visitors.
Avenida de Mayo
This European-styled boulevard, which was completed and opened in 1894, is one of the most important historical landmarks in Buenos Aires. The avenue is lined with spectacular architecture from the belle époque and is the axis of the government’s political power which connects the house of the president with the Argentinian seat of Congress. It stands as a representative of the golden age in Buenos Aires. Avenida de Mayo is home to more than 18 hotels from the 20th century, as well as popular theatres and cafes.
The Pink House is the official seat of the executive branch of the government of Argentina. It’s located on the eastern end of Plaza de Mayo, on a site which was originally occupied by the fort of Juan Baltazar (constructed by the founders of the city) which was later replaced by the castle of San Miguel.
After Argentina’s independence, Bernardino Rivadavia had a portico constructed around the structure before President Justo José de Urquiza ordered the demolition and reconstruction of the building in 1857. Casa Rosada remained the largest building in the city of Buenos Aires until the 1890s. Today, the building is one of the major historical landmarks in Buenos Aires.
Confitería El Molino
Although this building has been officially closed to the public since 1997, due to a need for renovation, its rich history is one of the things that places it on the list of the most important historical landmarks in Buenos Aires.
During the best of times, Confitería El Molino was one of the tallest buildings in the city. It was designed by the Italian art master Francisco Giannotti on the request of the famous confectioner Cayetano Brenna, to house a café on its ground floor. The building is by far one of Giannotti’s most famous works and is the most notable art nouveau styled building in Buenos Aires.
The Teatro Colón
The Teatro Colón was opened in the year 1908 and is one of the most notable opera houses, not only in Buenos Aires but in the entire the world. The theatre was completed in 1908, after about 20 years under construction. It has a horseshoe-shaped auditorium with 2487 seats and a 20 meters wide, 15 meters high and 20 meters deep stage. The theater is ranked among the top 5 best opera acoustics in the world.
On the outside, the magnificently structured building is bounded by the Cerrito street, Libertad street, which is the main entrance, Tucumán street and the Viamonte street. The site, currently occupied by the theatre, was once occupied by the Ferrocarril Oeste Plaza.
This is one of the most famous historical landmarks in Buenos Aires. It is a venue for cultural activities and events of various types. Located right at the heart of Buenos Aires, at the Republic Square, the Obelisk was constructed in May 1935 as a landmark for commemorating the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding.
The Obelisk was designed by the famous architect Alberto Prebisch, and erected in about 4 weeks at the exact point where the flag of Argentina was flown for the first time in Buenos Aires.
For long, the Obelisk has been the traditional spot for sport fans to celebrate the victory of their favorite teams, especially the Argentina national football team.
The Pirámide de Mayo
Also known as the ‘May Pyramid’, this is the very first national monument in the city and is one of the most notable historical landmarks in Buenos Aires. Located right at the center of the Plaza de Mayo, its construction began in 1811 as part of the plan to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the May Revolution.
Its renovation was ordered in 1856, before being moved completely in 1912. The remarkable monument standing at 18.76 meters from its base to its very top is the work of the French sculptor Joseph Dubourdieu.
This shopping mall, located at the junction of Florida street and Cordoba Avenue, is not just a prominent commercial center in Buenos Aires. It has also witnessed various constructions and reconstructions from several famous and skilled architects during the building’s eventful past.
The original beaux arts style building was designed by the famous architects Emilio Agrelo and Roland Varchar in the year 1889 to house a shop known as the Argentine Bon Marché. Later in 1945, it was remodeled by José Aslan and Hector Ezcurra to separate the office from the rest of the building. Artists Antonio Berni, Lino Enea Spilimbergo, Juan Carlos, among others, constructed a large central dome and decorated it with 12 frescos.
The building was abandoned for years and later reopened in 1990, after renovations were carried out by Juan Carlos Lopez and associates. Another group of artists: Josefina Robirosa Romulo Maccio, Carlos Alonso and Guillermo Roux added 4 more frescos to the dome.
This is the second oldest plaza in the city and is one of the major historical landmarks in Buenos Aires. Plaza Dorrego is the site where Argentina formally declared independence from Spain back in the year 1816.
It became a market square in the 19th century and has been the site of a lively antique fair every Sunday since the year 1970. High quality 19th century silver and glass wares line the streets of the plaza during the weekly Sunday fairs. The square represents the Argentinian culture and has been named a National Historic Monument by the government.
There are other monuments and historical landmarks in Buenos Aires not mentioned in this article that are major crowd puller and center of attraction for tourists in the city. However, this list gives you a good overview of all the interesting historical landmarks in Buenos Aires you should try to visit the next time you are in the beautiful capital of Argentina.