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Historical Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Buenos Aires

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.
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Historical Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: Argentina » Buenos Aires (See other walking tours in Buenos Aires)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral
  • Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced
  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • San Ignacio De Loyola Church
  • The Basílica Menor de San Francisco
  • Basílica de Santo Domingo
  • Russian Orthodox Church
St John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral

1) St John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral

The St John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral was built to serve the British population of Argentina in 1831. It is the oldest non Catholic Church in the city and the mother church of the Anglican diocese of Argentina.

The site of the St John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral was once the old cemetery of the Our Lady of Mercy and the convent of the Mercedarian Friars. The land was donated by the then Argentine ruler, Juan Manuel de Rosas. The building has a neoclassical style with columns and stained glass windows. A chancel was added to the existing structure in the 19th century and a bishop’s throne installed in the 20th century. During the Victorian period, an organ was donated to the church.

From the date of consecration worship at the St John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral has been the preserve of the English speaking people except for a few rare exceptions. Today, worshippers include elderly citizens, English speaking citizens and tourists. The church has relations with the Church of England but is not under its direct control. There is a special service held annually to honor those who died in World War I. It was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in the year 2000.
Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced

2) Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced

The Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced or Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Spain. The present building dates back to 1783 and it was declared a basilica by Pope Benedict XV in 1917.

The first church built on the site of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced was by the Mercedarian Friars in 1603. The Mercedarians belonged to the Order of Our Lady of Mercy and along with many other catholic orders left Argentina as a result of the ecclesiastic reforms of 1822. It became a major place of worship for politicians and military personnel in the city after it passed into the hands of the catholic diocese.

The building of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced has a combination of Baroque and Rococo styles. It is noted for its baroque style grand altar and the frescoes that adorn its walls. The external tympanum depicts the victory of the Argentine army against the Spanish in Tucuman in 1812 under General Belgrano. The carved sand colored façade was added in 1905 shortly before it was declared a basilica. Many of the artifacts within the church were destroyed during the anti church riots of 1955. One important icon that survived is a polychrome wood Cristo de la Humildad y Paciencia that was carved from a single tree by an indigenous craftsman.
Metropolitan Cathedral

3) 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.

Entrance is completely free, but you can buy souvenirs in the shop.
San Ignacio De Loyola Church

4) San Ignacio De Loyola Church

The San Ignacio De Loyola Church is the oldest in Buenos Aires. It was built by the Society of Jesus and forms part of a complex of Jesuit institutions called the Manzana de las Luces or the Block of Enlightenment.

The San Ignacio De Loyola Church was designed by Jesuit architect Juan Kraus and built between 1710 and 1734. It was constructed in honor of the founder of the Jesuit order, Saint Ignatius of Loyola. It replaced an older adobe church that was constructed in 1675. The Jesuits were the first Europeans to settle in colonies established by Spain and their tradition of being a teaching order that educated the indigenous people earned the location, the name block of enlightenment. The most famous public school in Argentina is also located here.

The San Ignacio De Loyola Church has an ornate Baroque façade. The interiors are covered with 18th century paintings. Notable among the paintings is the sliding canvas of Saint Ignatius of Loyola that was created in 1767. There are many 17th century underground tunnels that helped the Spanish while defending the country against the British. The San Ignacio De Loyola Church is open for visitors and they can also view some of the underground tunnels.
The Basílica Menor de San Francisco

5) The Basílica Menor de San Francisco

The Basílica Menor de San Francisco belongs to the Franciscan Order and to the the parish of San Roque. There has been a church on the same site since one was first built built by a Jesuit architect in 1730. It is famous for its baroque style façade and for numerous statues of saints and other people of historic importance. Look out for the statues of Saint Francis of Assisi, the poet Dante and explorer Christopher Columbus.
Basílica de Santo Domingo

6) Basílica de Santo Domingo

This eighteenth century church served many purposes since its construction. The actual name of the Basilica de Santo Domingo is Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Rosario.

The Basilica de Santo Domingo stands on the site of a Dominican monastery. The church was completed in 1793. It later housed a natural history museum and astronomic observatory. The British attempted to sieze Buenos Aires in 1806 and were holed up in the church. They were defeated and shrapnel on the Eastern Tower is a reminder of the attack. In 1835, the church was restored to the Dominican friars who built a second tower in 1856.

Today, there is a small museum called the Museo de la Basilica del Rosario that tells the story of the conflict with the British and has relics of the battle including captured British flags. The courtyard has a large mausoleum of General Manuel Belgrano, an Argentine national hero who was born and died near the basilica. The mausoleum was created by Hector Ximinez. It has a large red granite base and two bas reliefs depicting the presentation of the flag and the battle of Tucumen. The richly ornamented interiors have shrines dedicated to saints and plaques in honor of the brave soldiers who defeated the British and prevented an invasion.
Russian Orthodox Church

7) Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity was the first place of worship for the Orthodox Christian faith in Latin America. It is located in the San Telmo region of Buenos Aires in the green and serene Lezama Park.

During the 19th Century, waves of immigrants from Russia, Greece, the Baltic nations and Syria arrived to make Argentina their home. They required a place of worship and persuaded Emperor Alexander II to pass a decree to establish a church for the Orthodox Christian faith in Buenos Aires that would serve immigrants and the Russian delegation to South America.

The Russian Orthodox Church was designed in St. Petersburg and the ornamentation was supervised by the Argentine architect, Christophersen. It has five turquoise onion shaped domes. The stained glass, icons and venetian mosaics were sent by Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra from St. Petersburg to adorn the interiors and the windows. It was consecrated in 1904 and has served the orthodox Christians of Buenos Aires since. The interiors are covered with paintings and mosaics. The church is seldom open on weekdays. Services are held on Saturdays and Sundays and choirs perform orthodox liturgical hymns with or without the accompaniment of musical instruments on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

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