There’s plenty of famous historic sites in Argentina to visit. Among the very best are San Ignacio Mini, La Recoleta Cemetery and Plaza de Mayo. Other popular sites include Nuestra Senora de Loreto, Basilica de Nuestra Senora Del Pilar and Casa Rosada. Here is our list of the top 10 historical sites in Argentina.
San Ignacio Mini in Argentina is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally founded in approximately 1611, it formed part of a series of Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis established by the Society of Jesus or ‘Jesuits’. Many similar Jesuit missions were scattered across Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
A thriving settlement in the early 18th century, in 1767 the Jesuits were forced out after a campaign to suppress the Society of Jesus initiated by Pope Clement XIV. The mission itself was destroyed a year later.
Today, the ruins are some of the most well-preserved of the Jesuit Missions in South America and a popular tourist destination. They include a magnificent entrance, a church, a cemetery, a school, a large central square and approximately thirty houses of its original residents as well as several other original buildings.
La Recoleta Cemetery (Cementerio de la Recoleta) is a world renowned cemetery in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. Opulent and grand, La Recoleta Cemetery is characterized by a range of ornately decorated mausoleums, many of which are made of marble and adorned with statues.
In fact, this over ground burial system is due to the fact that is anything buried underneath La Recoleta Cemetery’s marshy earth is likely to rise back to the surface. La Recoleta Cemetery sees presidents and wealthy businessmen rub shoulders with poets, writers and boxers.
Look out for presidents such as Raul Alfonsin, Arturo Umberto Illia, Hipólito Yrigoyen and Nicolás Avellaneda, one of Napoleon’s grandchildren Isabel Walewski Colonna and the boxer, Luis Ángel Firpo. It’s most famous resident is Eva Perón or “Evita”, who is buried in a black marble mausoleum owned by her family and listed under her maiden name “Maria Eva Duarte”.
Designed by a French engineer called Próspero Catelin, La Recoleta Cemetery more resembles a city than a burial ground, its impressive neo-classical gates opening up to winding tree-lined streets. English tours are available Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11am.
Plaza de Mayo is a famous and politically significant square in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. Established in 1580 and once known as Plaza de la Victoria, it was renamed as Plaza de Mayo in the nineteenth century following the May Revolution.
Today the square is an important focal point for political life in Argentina and is where most of its political institutions are housed, including the Casa Rosada from which Eva Peron or “Evita” addressed the people and city hall. It also contains the May Pyramid, a statue commemorating the May Revolution and Argentina’s independence from Spain, as well as The Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires.
Nuestra Senora de Loreto was an important Argentinean Jesuit mission founded in 1610. Unlike many of its counterparts which had to move several times due to ongoing attacks from slave traders, the mission only moved once. This resettlement occurred in 1631, when the mission transferred to its present location near Posadas.
The Jesuits wanted to evangelize the indigenous populations. They learned indigenous languages so that they could better teach them Spanish and established a printing press to produce translations of the Bible.
The Jesuits were expelled from the area in 1767, and the mission was abandoned by the early 19th century. While some vegetation has been cleared from the ruins which include the church, the site is not as well preserved as nearby San Ignacio Mini.
Casa Rosada is a presidential palace in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. Literally translated as the “Pink Palace” due to its distinctive pink façade, Casa Rosada houses the executive branch of Argentina’s government.
The area on which Casa Rosada is located was once by the sea. In the late 16th century it was the site of the Royal Fort of San Juan Baltasar de Austria, built under the orders of Don Juan de Garay. The building was renovated and decorated in the late 19th century, transforming it into a presidential residence.
Probably the most famous aspect of the palace is its association with Eva Peron or “Evita”, the wife of President Juan Peron, who addressed the Argentine people from its balcony. Today, the palace is open to the public and has a museum in its lower levels containing numerous artefacts relating to Argentina’s history and its government.
The Buenos Aires Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral) was originally built in the 16th century, although the current building was constructed in 1745. The varied history of the Catedral Metropolitana is evident in its diverse architecture. It incorporates a neoclassical façade designed by French architects Prosper Catelin and Pierre Benoit, as well as its 18th century nave, dome and altars.
As the main church of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Catedral Metropolitana forms the centre of catholic life in the city. Catedral Metropolitana contains the mausoleum of General San Martin. He was a central figure in Argentina’s struggle for independence from Spain. It also houses the tomb of the unknown soldier of Argentine independence and an eternal flame of remembrance.
The Museo de la Mujer, or Women’s Museum, is a museum in central Buenos Aires, Argentina. Its historical and artistic exhibitions deal with themes of women’s culture and history, primarily in Argentina and other Latin American countries.
The museum, described by its directors as “a proposal of art and culture from women who make history”, examines the changing role of women throughout history. It also scrutinises the challenges faced by women across the world today. Through their work, the museum’s organisers aim to improve the recognition of the rights and interests of women, and to fight against gender-based discrimination and oppression.
The Museo de la Mujer is also a centre for discussion and organises regular classes and workshops.
Basilica de Nuestra Senora Del Pilar was constructed in 1732 in a colonial style. Inside the building, there is a small museum area home to religious vestaments, paintings, writings and artefacts. There are views of the Recoleta cemetery and in the courtyard, as you enter, a tiled artwork depicts 1794 Buenos Aires.
The Basilica is situated in Recoleta district in the Barrio Norte area, to the immediate right of the Recoleta Cemetery. The Agüero and Facultad de Medicina underground stations are both in walking distance.
The Welsh Regional Historical Museum in the town of Y Gaiman, Patagonia, tells the story of the Welsh settlement of this region in the 19th century. Gaiman itself is a small town in the valley of Chubut which was colonised by Welsh settlers – even today Welsh and Spanish are the two local languages.
Welsh was forcefully discouraged for a time but is now making a resurgence. The town forms a key part of the Welsh settlement of Patagonia, also known as Y Wladfa Gymreig. The Welsh Regional Historical Museum can be found in the former station house.
It contains many lovingly maintained relics of the settlement period including “Y ty Cyntaf” or “The First House”. It tells the story of these first settlers and explores the history of the Welsh community in the region. Other sites in Gaiman include the school, which proudly displays a desk presented by Lloyd George, and the graveyard.
The Cathedral of Córdoba is the oldest church in continuous service in Argentina, and was declared a National Historic Monument in 1941. Not to be confused with the cathedral in the Spanish city, building works for the original Cathedral of Córdoba began in the late 1500s.
It took 200 years for the structure to be completed. It is one of many historical monuments in the city preserved from Spanish colonial rule. Prominent historical figures from the province of Córdoba and the country of Argentina have been buried in the cathedral.
They include bishops of Córdoba and the Argentine military figure José María Paz (1791-1854), who participated in the Argentine War of Independence and the Argentine Civil War, as well as his wife.