Getaways in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires or, in English, “fair winds” was named for a Sardinian sanctuary called “Nostra Signora di Bonaria” or “Our Lady of Good Air.” Today this cultural capital with its European-inspired ambience often goes by a far less poetic name in local conversations: Baires or just plain BA.

Located at the mouth of the Río de la Plata, Bueno Aires dates back to 1536 when it was founded by Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza as Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre or  “City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds.” These early settlers were gone within just a few years, however, driven away by the indigenous residents. Forty years later, another settlement was established by Spanish conquistador Juan de Garay. This became a permanent settlement, one that specialized in trade.

During that time, all exports from the Spanish territories in South America to Spain had to first pass through Lima to pay taxes. This law caused Buenos Aires to develop as a contraband port, a lucrative position which led to the eventual development of the city. Finally in 1776 Spain recognized the importance of the city in international trade and made it the capital of the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, an area that included Paraguay, Uruguay, and even the valuable silver mines at Potosí.

In spite of its new status, the people of Buenos Aires, especially the colonists born in Argentina known as criollos, were dissatisfied with Spanish rule. When Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808, Buenos Aires decided to claim its independence and did so in May 1810.

Today that move to independence is recalled at the Plaza de Mayo. Here an obelisk marks the first anniversary of independence. On the east side of the plaza lies Casa Rosada; inside this pink building lies the presidential offices. Adjacent to the plaza stands the Catedral Metropolitana, the main cathedral in the city. Inside lies the tomb of General José de San Martín, one of the leaders for Argentinean independence.

Visitors can learn more about the movement for independence at the Argentine National Museum of History or the Museo Histórico Nacional. Another top museum in the city is the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires or Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, also known as MALBA. This modern art museum is considered one of Buenos Aires’s top attractions and contains works by top Latin American artists including Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo.

Another important attraction for many international visitors is the Museo Evita which documents the life and career of María Eva Duarte de Perón, better known as Evita, the wife of Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón. Here exhibits on the woman known as the “Spiritual Leader of the Nation” include everything from her role as founder of the Female Peronist Party to her personal items and wardrobe.

No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a look at the tango, the passionate dance that grew to be a symbol of the country during the years of Perón’s presidency. The dance originated in the southern barrios of the city but today it is seen in plaza and restaurants throughout the region, a symbol of the vibrant pulse that beats in this capital city.

Video Resource

Here's a good look at the attractions of Buenos Aires; the video was made by Delta Airlines: