Our first full day of exploring in Buenos Aires began at Plaza Del Congreso where Argentina’s Palacio del Congreso (National Congress) stands facing a lovely park with shade trees and benches, sculptures and fountains, and lots of pigeons.
Argentina modeled its government on the US bicameral system. During the years of military dictatorship, the congress was empty.
My guys feeding pigeons while we waited to meet up with our walking tour guide.
My daughter, annoyed by her father’s pigeon feeding, comes to join me. She has not been a pigeon fan since being aggressively swarmed several years back in St. Mark’s Square, Venice.
In the plaza (across the street from the mural above), we hooked up with the free (donations appreciated) walking tour of downtown Buenos Aires.
Our guide explained that Argentinians constantly exercise their right to free speech through daily protests, signs, and street art.
As our tour headed through the park we admired the sculptures. I don’t know who this mega mustache man is but he looks like quite the character with his jauntily tipped hat!
At this point my kids in unison said, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking”
This sculpture is one of Rodin’s original copies.
Our tour took us along Avenida de Mayo from the Palacio del Congreso (house of the people) to Casa Rosada (house of the President).
Such wonderful facades and architectural details along the way.
Crossing Avenida 9 de Julio, you can see a giant mural of Eva Peron (Evita) on the Ministry of Social Development building. Evita is greatly loved for her fight for women’s suffrage and her efforts to improve the lives of the poor.
I guessed correctly that this was Evita speaking into a microphone but our guide laughingly said that she had one person ask her, “Who is the guy eating the sandwich?” Now I see the sandwich too.
Everywhere you look there is art.
The iconic Gran Café Tortoni first opened its doors in 1858 and was a popular meeting place for 19th century artists and writers.
The tour didn’t allow time to enjoy a coffee but we returned later.
The cafe’s iced- cappuccino flavored with cinnamon and orange was oh so good on a hot summer’s day
Approaching Plaza de Mayo (pronounced masho)
The Cabildo was constructed in colonial Spanish style between 1725-1822. It was the original government seat of Buenos Aires.
Painted headscarves commemorating the Mothers of the Disappeared. During the Dirty War and military dictatorship (1976-1983 ) 30,000 people disappeared. Protests were forbidden and people were not allowed to gather in groups larger than three. The mothers of the disappeared sidestepped this rule by walking separately in pairs or groups of three in the plaza. They still march every Thursday.
Casa Rosada, the President’s Palace, gets its name from its color. The original paint was made from powdered limestone mixed with ox blood.
From the center balcony in the photo below Evita famously addressed the people and Madonna, as Evita, sang.
If I had a selfie stick it would be easier but I enjoy the squeezed togetherness that always gets us laughing.
The Greco-Roman looking building on the right is the Catedral Metropolitana. This was where Pope Francis was archbishop. Our guide told us that Papa Francisco fans also like to visit the nearby coffee shop he frequented as well as his barbershop.
Our tour did not allow time to enter the church so we visited again later.
Detail of the cathedral
Cathedral columns and floating particles
Cathedral’s Baroque interior
Tomb of General José de San Martín – an Argentinian independence fighter
From the cathedral, we crossed into the crowded downtown business/shopping area
We saw what appeared to be a model shoot in progress behind a huge NYC
Ornate facade – couldn’t resist a pic
All over town we’ve spotted these cushiony looking public benches. Don’t be fooled they are cement.
Had to make a donation – it’s the first city sand castle I’ve ever seen 🙂 He used the sand from the nearby construction in progress.
Back on Avenida 9 de Julio our guide called our attention to the house on the roof. The building had once been a factory and the factory owner lived and raised his family in that house. Now it has been turned into office space.
The Obelisco, erected in 1936, pays tribute to important events in Argentina’s history and is one of Buenos Aires’ most loved icons for Argentinian tourists. Sports fans gather at the Obelisco to celebrate after a major victory.
Here is where our group tour ended. We had more than walked off our breakfast and my husband and I could sense the kids would mutiny if not fed soon.
This Kentucky Pizzeria near the Obelisco struck us as funny since Kentucky is not typically known for it’s pizza. We had to try it.
Thick crust cheesy DELICIOUSNESS!!!!
We later learned that Kentucky is actually a very popular chain of pizzerias in Buenos Aires. I swear there is one every quarter mile.
After their bellies were full, our teens agreed to one more stop.
Puerto Madero – Once used to store perishable exports in the 19th century, the brick dock buildings have been modernized into restaurants and shops.
The Presidente Sarmiento, a 1890’s Naval training frigate, has been turned into a museum.
Although I could have enjoyed this lovely and relaxing waterfront longer, we needed to head back to our Airbnb to rest up and shower for dinner reservations in Palermo. My guys can’t wait to try Argentinian beef.