City Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Buenos Aires

Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is a bustling, cosmopolitan city, abundant in architectural and historic landmarks. The city center is dominated by Plaza de Mayo, lined with majestic 19th-century buildings, including the iconic presidential palace Casa Rosada. Other major attractions include Teatro Colón, Obelisk of Buenos Aires and numerous plazas. Take this orientation walk and explore these and other top attractions of Buenos Aires.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Argentina » Buenos Aires (See other walking tours in Buenos Aires)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: irenes
1
Plaza de Mayo

1) Plaza de Mayo (must see)

The Plaza de Mayo is named in honor of the May revolution that led to the independence of Argentina. It is located in the heart of Buenos Aires and is surrounded by many of its landmarks.

The Plaza de Mayo was the site chosen by the founder of Buenos Aires, Juan de Garay for a central square in 1580. His plan did not materialize because the Jesuits got the title to the property. In 1661, the land was purchased again for a plaza and a colonnade was erected. In 1881, the colonnade was demolished and the present Plaza de Mayo took shape. The May Pyramid was built at the center to commemorate the May revolution.

The Plaza de Mayo remains the hub of political activism where a rally always takes place. It also hosts the cathedral, the Casa Rosada, the Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution.

Why You Should Visit:
Emblematic of Argentine history, but also a beautiful picturesque square as those found in Spain.
Always a pleasure to walk around, especially since it has been completely refurbished.
2
Metropolitan Cathedral

2) Metropolitan Cathedral (must see)

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires is the main Catholic Church in the city. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Metropolitan Cathedral was erected on land donated by the founder of Buenos Aires, Juan de Garay in 1580. Many church buildings were erected and demolished at the site and the construction of the present cathedral began in 1753 based on the design of Italian architect, Antonio Masella. The dome was built in 1770 and the cathedral was consecrated without a façade in 1791. An elaborate façade was designed by French architects, Prosper Catelin and Pierre Benoit in neoclassical style based on the design of the Bourbon Palace in Paris. The ornamentation of the façade by French sculptor, Joseph Dubordieu was completed in 1863.

Notable features in the Metropolitan Museum include an elaborate mausoleum with the body of General Jose de San Martin who is regarded as the Father of the Nation and a memorial to the Unknown Soldier. The eternal flame in honor of the Unknown Soldier burns on the façade of the cathedral. The Saint Jean Nepomucen’s Chapel has a statue of Holy Christ of Great love carved from Lebanese cedar by sculptor Luis Alvarez Duarte and donated by two well known international soccer players, Daniel Bertoni and Hector Scotta.

Why You Should Visit:
Not that big or impressive on the outside but quite beautiful on the inside, with a nice mosaic floor.
Probably the biggest claim to fame is that the current pope was Archbishop of this cathedral.

Tip:
Entrance is completely free, but you can buy souvenirs in the shop.
3
The World Tango Museum

3) The World Tango Museum

The Tango has long been one of the most significant cultural expressions of Argentina and is regarded as a national heritage. The World tango Museum is operated by the Academia Nacional Tango which seeks to preserve and promote this cultural dance form.

The World Tango Museum was inaugurated in 2003 and is a repository of a range of exhibits relating to the Tango in Argentina and in other parts of the world where the dance is popular. The museum forms part of the Academia Nacional Building. The historical structure that houses the academy has an ornate Italianate design that was once the home of the wealthy Unzue family and was built in 1888. The Museum was created by the academy and the poet, Horacio Ferrer.

The Museum has exhibits showcasing the history and evolution of the tango around the world with a special focus on Argentina in chronological order. Objects displayed, pay tribute to the great artistes who contributed to the creation and evolution of the dance. Exhibits include old record covers, cds, scores and manuscripts, audio visual displays and a display on instruments used for the accompanying music. A youth tango orchestra performs every day for visitors and they can buy unique tango themed souvenirs from the well stocked gift shop.

Operation hours: Monday – Friday: 2:30 pm – 7:30 pm
4
Plaza del Congreso

4) Plaza del Congreso (must see)

The Plaza del Congreso is located in front of the National Congress Building. It is one of the largest squares in the city.

It is also called "Plaza de los dos Congresos" because the Monumento de los Dos Congresos is located within the square. The Plaza Lorea, the Plaza Mariano Moreno and the Plaza de Congreso form a set of plazas in front of the National Congress Building. It was developed for the centenary celebrations of the May Revolution in 1912.

The Plaza Lorea was named after the man who once owned the land, Isidro Lorea. The Plaza Mariano Moreno was named after Mariano Moreno who played a leading role in the war of independence. In 1908, a law was enacted to establish a public square in front of the National Congress Building and Carlos Thays was chosen to design it. It was completed in 1910 with two sections, one with sculptures and the other, a French-style garden. Two notable sculptures are an original variant of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ that is signed by Rodin and a monument to the two congresses that honor the Congress of 1810 of Buenos Aires and the Congress of 1816 in Tucuman that led to the independence of the nation.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the prettiest squares in the city! The monuments commemorate Argentine's independence and are rich in symbolism.

Tip:
Be careful of the people camping in the square – although they usually do not bother tourists, there are always exceptions, especially at night.
Also, don't be surprised to see a demonstration here.
5
National Congress

5) National Congress (must see)

The National Congress building in Buenos Aires is the seat of the Argentine parliament. It is located at the western end of Avenida de Mayo. On the other end is the Casa Rosada that houses the offices of the President.

Plans for the National Congress building were drawn by Italian Architect Vittorio Meano and completed by Argentine architect Julio Dormal. Construction of the building began in 1898 and was partially complete in 1906 when it was inaugurated by President Jose Figueroa Alcorta. The first joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate was held in 1906 in the building. The decorative details were not completed until 1946. Sculptor, Victor de Pol executed the quadriga on top of the main entrance and the interiors were decorated with bronzes by a local sculptor, Lola Mora. The Congressional square facing the structure was designed by the French-Argentine urban landscape artist Carlos Thays and opened in 1910. The kilometer 0 for all Argentine National Highways is marked on a stone at the Plaza.

Tourists and members of the public can take one of the guided tours around the National Congress Building on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The guides show visitors the Chamber of Deputies, the room where guests are received that has large paintings depicting historical events in the parliament on each wall and the beautiful library with hand carved walnut wood panels.

Tip:
Ask for guided tours in Spanish/English as they are available on most weekdays. You'll need a photo ID to be let into the building (a passport photocopy should suffice).
6
Plaza de la Republica

6) Plaza de la Republica

The Plaza de la Republica is a large elliptical plaza in the heart of Buenos Aires. The Obelisk of Buenos Aires, a monument built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city is located in the center of the square.

The Plaza de la Republica is located in the San Nicholas Quarter of Buenos Aires. Originally, the church of St. Nicolas of Bari was located here. It was at this church that the Argentine flag was hoisted for the first time. The church was subsequently demolished and the site was chosen to establish the plaza and erect the obelisk.

The Plaza de la Republica was designed by local architect, Alberto Prebisch. It was inaugurated in 1937. He designed it as a stone paved circular esplanade. In 1962, it was enlarged and became an elliptical park with its present dimensions. The layout was changed to reroute one of the main roads of the city, the Corrientes Avenue through the park in 1971. The change was made to ease car traffic in the financial district of the city. Today it lies at the intersection of the three main arteries of the city. The Plaza de la Republica is a popular location for celebrations in the city especially when the Argentine Soccer team wins a major trophy.
7
The Obelisk of Buenos Aires

7) The Obelisk of Buenos Aires

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires stands at the intersection of the two most important roads of the city. Erected to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Buenos Aires, it has over the years become the main symbol of the city.

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires was designed by architect Alberto Plebisch who was famous for constructing Tucuman modernist structures. It was built by the German construction company, G.E.O.P.E. - Siemens Bauunion - Grün & Bilfinger who completed construction in a record 31 days. The location chosen was that of the demolished San Nicholas of Bari church where the Argentine Flag was first hoisted in 1812. It was made of concrete and Olaen white stone from the Cordoba region.

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires was inaugurated in May1936. It is 67.5 meters high and ends in a lightning rod. There is one entrance and one can reach the top to view the city from the four windows at the summit by climbing 206 steps. The monument has suffered vandalism and covered with graffiti with political overtones. Some Argentine dictators have placed forbidding signs on the obelisk. It is also the venue of celebrations caused by Argentine sporting victories, music concerts, political demonstrations, religious congregations and candlelight vigils.
8
Teatro Colón

8) Teatro Colón (must see)

The Teatro Colón or Columbus Theatre in Buenos Aires is regarded as one of the finest opera houses in the world. It took several years and many architects to complete the structure but the result was an architectural masterpiece.

The flourishing operas performed by touring companies in Buenos Aires resulted in the construction of the first Teatro Colón in 1857. It flourished for 30 years. It soon became clear that a new and larger venue was needed because of the increasing popularity of opera in the city. After a 20 year construction period, the present Teatro Colón opened in 1908 with the performance of the opera, Aida.

The present structure was made with carefully selected material from Europe. It was decorated with several different Italian marbles, French stained glass, mosaics from Venice and Slavonic woodwork. The main hall is horse-shoe shaped and can seat over 2,500 spectators. There are four levels of galleries and an additional standing space for a thousand spectators. The orchestra pit can host 120 musicians. The acoustics are near perfect causing the great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti to describe it as one of the most challenging halls in the world where even the slightest mistake can be easily detected. The dome has a hidden gallery for a choir to give a dramatic effect as if angels are singing from the skies. There is also a large underground area where workshops and ateliers are located that make all that is needed to support the stage productions.

Why You Should Visit:
To see the most representative theater in Argentina and, perhaps, in South America.
The acoustics are magnificent and attending an opera representation here is a great idea.
With sculptures, marble, gold leaf, stained glass windows, artwork, and ornate chandeliers the building itself is just beautiful and well worth a visit.

Tip:
Several tours are conducted daily in different languages, so inquire at the box office.
Unfortunately, if you want to arrange seats for a ballet or opera you need to book a long way in advance because the theatre is justifiably popular.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-8pm; Sun: 9am-5pm
9
Plazoleta Cortazar

9) Plazoleta Cortazar

Plazoleta Cortazar - or Plaza Serrano, as locals call it - is a famous square that's well known to both city-dwellers and tourists alike. During the day it hosts an open-air market where you'll find lots of nice crafts, clothing, art objects, jewelry and much more. At night the square - which is considered the bohemian heart of Palermo Soho - becomes a meeting point for the young people of Buenos Aires, who are also known as portenos. The Plazoleta Cortazar also doubles as a great shopping area.
10
Galerías Pacífico

10) Galerías Pacífico (must see)

The Galerías Pacífico is a covered shopping center famous for its fresco-covered ceilings by leading Argentine artists. It is located between Florida Street and Cordoba Avenue in Buenos Aires.

The Galerías Pacífico building was constructed in 1889 for a large store called the Argentine Bon Marche. The beaux arts building was designed by architects, Emilio Agrelo and Roland de Vacher based on the design of the Parisian store, Le Bon Marche. Later, it became the first home of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. In 1908, the British Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway Company bought the building for its offices. The purpose of the company was to build a railway line through Chile to access the Pacific Ocean and the building was renamed Edificio Pacifico.

The Galerias Pacifico was remodeled in 1945 with the addition of a cupola and ceiling frescoes by notable Argentine artists including a magnificent central panel by artist, Antonio Berni. In 1987, a dungeon was found under the building where the military junta that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983 tortured prisoners. It was declared a historical monument in 1989 and became a high-end shopping arcade in 1991. Four ceiling frescoes were added in 1991 by well known Argentine contemporary artists including Guillermo Roux.

Why You Should Visit:
Worth a quick view of the cupola and frescoes or staying longer to shop, grab a bite at the food court, stop for a coffee/ice-cream...

Tip:
If you're going to shop, keep in mind to look for the signs that say "tax-free" so you can request your tax refund before leaving Argentina.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-9pm
11
Plaza San Martin

11) Plaza San Martin

The Plaza San Martin is a tranquil park in the heart of Buenos Aires. It lies at the northern end of the busy pedestrian shopping street called Florida Street and is surrounded by many of the city’s skyscrapers.

The red marble and bronze equestrian statue of General Jose de San Martin who is regarded as the father of Argentina stands in the Plaza San Martin. The statue was sculpted by French artist Louis Joseph Daumas and erected in 1862. The statue depicts the different stages in the life of the general and the battles he fought to attain independence for Argentina. In 1878, the park was named after him on his 100th birth anniversary. It was designed by British architect Edward Taylor and Argentine architect, Jose Canale in 1883 and French architect Carlos Thays gave the park its current form in 1889.

The Plaza San Martin was once surrounded by the houses of some of the wealthiest families in Buenos Aires. It has more than 350 species of trees including Gameros, Jacarandas, Borrachos, Tilos and Palos. Visitors and locals flock to the park between September and November when most of the trees are in full bloom. At one end is monument to the soldiers who died fighting for the Islas Malvinas or Falkland Islands during the Falklands War.
12
Palacio San Martin

12) Palacio San Martin

The San Martin Palace is the ceremonial headquarters of the Argentine Foreign Ministry. The elaborate beaux arts style building was once the residence of the wealthy Anchorena family.

The San Martin palace was commissioned by Mercedes Castellanos de Anchorena and her two sons Aaron and Emilio and architect, Alejandro Christophersen designed the building. It was built between 1905 and 1909. In 1936, the government acquired Palacio San Martin and it became the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. In 1993, the headquarters were moved to a new building and the ministry now uses the building as its ceremonial headquarters.

The structure is a complex of three residences with two common rooms. The three residences surround a large patio. Notable features include an iron and glass balcony and ornate iron gates. It has many famous works of art by Argentine and other American artists like Antonio Berni, Pablo Curatella Manes and Roberto Matta. It also houses a valuable pre Columbian art collection consisting of pottery, stone and metal ware made by the indigenous people from Northwest Argentina. The Palacio San Martin has a large library with books in Spanish and other languages on international law and international relations.

Opening hours for free guided visits in English and Spanish: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 15.00

Walking Tours in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Create Your Own Walk in Buenos Aires

Create Your Own Walk in Buenos Aires

Creating your own self-guided walk in Buenos Aires is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Best Known Churches Tour

Best Known Churches Tour

You may be surprised by the great number of churches, chapels and cathedrals around Buenos Aires. There are plenty of well known and frequently visited churches around the city, which is divided into 24 parishes and sub-parishes - each with a church of its own.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave Buenos Aires without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Buenos Aires, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Gay Friendly Self-Guided Tour

Gay Friendly Self-Guided Tour

Buenos Aires is one of most popular gay destinations. It is an open-minded city where gays and lesbians can socialize freely in plenty of outdoor cafes and restaurants. It's a city where the locals are gay friendly and accept gay tourists as a natural feature of Buenos Aires. Here you'll find some top tips on where to go and where to find some of the city's most popular gay...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.5 km
Modern Architecture Walking Tour

Modern Architecture Walking Tour

Over the course of the first half of the 20th Century, a new form of modern architecture emerged in Buenos Aires as a result of social and political changes. This modern architecture was encouraged by advances in technology and engineering. The style is typified by diversity of form, complexity of structure and the volume of metal and plastic used. There are many examples of such modern...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.6 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

It would be a pity to leave Buenos Aires without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Buenos Aires, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.1 km
Self-Guided Tour: Children's Attractions

Self-Guided Tour: Children's Attractions

Children have great imaginations and are always full of ideas when it comes to entertaining themselves. Luckily, Buenos Aires offers some great children's entertainment spots so your kids will enjoy visiting the city as much as you will. This self-guided tour presents some of the most popular attractions for kids in Buenos Aires.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.6 km

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