Plaza de Mayo

Plaza de Mayo



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Plaza de Mayo is famous and politically significant square in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires.

History of Plaza de Mayo

The first plaza was established in 1580 during Juan de Garay’s foundation of Buenos Aires itself, but it was never really seen through. When the Jesuits arrived in the 17th century, they bought up the plot of land and over time, the site became built up and formalised by the colonial government. The site was known originally as the Plaza de la Victoria.

In 1883, following independence, the colonnade down the centre of the plaza was removed, and the site was renamed Plaza de Mayo, in recognition of the 1810 May Revolution which helped bring about Argentina’s independence from Spain.

Plaza de Mayo also contains the May Pyramid, a statue commemorating the May Revolution and the newly independent “Provinces of the Rio de la Plata”, which was installed in 1811.

Overall, Plaza de Mayo 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. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires can also be found here.

Plaza de Mayo today

Many still view Plaza de Mayo as the centre of Buenos Aires, and it remains the beating heart of protest or celebration in Argentina.

Today it’s also the focal point for the group known as the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo), who assemble here on Thursday afternoons, holding photos of their missing children. Argentina’s ‘dirty war’, a period of military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, is still contentious recent history, and the women gather here in memory of all those who disappeared in this period, and in the name of all the loved ones lost.

Getting to Plaza de Mayo

You’ll stumble across Plaza de Mayo in any trip to Buenos Aires – it’s in the heart of the city, and has several metro stations serving it: Catedral, Bolivar, Peru or Plaza de Mayo will bring you out at the right spot. Buses also stop on the roads running around it so you have plenty of options when it comes to transport.


A Brief History of the Plaza Mayor

Madrid’s Plaza Mayor is one of the most famous landmarks in Spain and has a rich history dating back several hundred years. It has witnessed countless major public events and suffered its own catastrophes. Read on to discover more.

The Plaza Mayor’s origins date back to the reign of Philip III, architect Juan de Herrera undertaking the original design, it was completed in 1619. Unfortunately, it then suffered several bouts of flaming bad luck. The first fire struck in 1631, and afterwards, the plaza was reconstructed by Juan Gómez de Mora. The second fire happened in 1670, the plaza was then reconstructed by Tomás Román. But as they say, bad things happen in threes, and another fire struck the plaza in 1790, the plaza we know and love today was then rebuilt by Juan de Villanueva (he took it from five to three floors, among other changes). The construction took years, and finally finished in 1854, even though Juan de Villanueva had passed away by this point, the process was completed by his students Antonio López Aguado and Custodio Moreno.

The Plaza Mayor wasn’t the original name. Its first name was the Plaza del Arraba, and the name was changed several times over the years to Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza de la República. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, it was finally given its current name: the Plaza Mayor.

Throughout the years, the Plaza Mayor has been used for a variety of different purposes. It was once used as a marketplace for food and other goods. It’s also been the site of many events like bullfights, public executions, trials during the Spanish Inquisition and crowning ceremonies.

Nowadays, you can find several pleasant (albeit overpriced) outdoor cafes and restaurants in the plaza, usually full of tourists. Many special events occur in the plaza now too – giant yoga workshops, concerts and festivals. One tradition has held steadfast: the annual Christmas markets, which have been held in the Plaza Mayor since 1860 and are still going strong.

The plaza today measures 129 meters in length and 94 meters in width. The buildings enclosed in the square are three floors high and there are 237 balconies facing the center. There are 10 ways to access the plaza, and additions to the plaza include the famous statue in the middle, which features Felipe III on his horse. This statue was placed in the plaza in 1848, although it was created in 1616. Before that, it had been located in Madrid’s largest park, the Casa de Campo.

Make sure to check out the famous Casa de la Panadería, which got its name from a bakery that was once located in the exact same spot. The building is covered in frescoes, which date back to 1590. Don’t expect to see the originals, though, as the frescoes have been reconstructed numerous times, most recently by Carlos Franco in 1992.


The Story Behind Madres de Plaza de Mayo

Thursday, March 24, don’t expect to go to work, to class, or shopping- it’s a national holiday, and a big one at that. Known as el Día de la Memoria, the Day of Memory, it’s not your run-of-the-mill recognition of some old battle. In fact, pretty much anyone over the age of 30 can remember the reasons all too well.

Argentina in 1973 for his third term as president, he only survived one year of his term, leaving his second wife, Isabel Perón, in charge as the President of the nation after his death (she had run with him as his vice president). During her presidency, the military used a secret police force, called the AAA or Triple A, to hunt down, kidnap, torture and kill those who were seen as “subversives:” social activists, student organizations and workers’ unions, progressive academics, etc. As the military became more unsatisfied with her government, the progressive sector of society was attacked more and more. Guerilla groups like the ERP and the Montoneros fought back against the armed forces, kidnapping multinational executives for large ransoms that were used to distribute food, clothing, educational materials, and medical supplies to slums and poor families.

On March 24, 1976, the three branches of the armed forces (air force, navy and army) took the government by force. The guerilla groups were the perfect excuse for the military dictatorship to declare a “war against terrorism” and to kidnap, torture, and execute anyone they felt opposed to their agenda. They established secret detention centers where “subversive” citizens were taken after being abducted where they were tortured extensively and often killed. These people, the desaparecidos, the “disappeared,” are estimated to be around 30,000 people, not including those confirmed dead and those who survived the torture and were later released. Family members spent weeks, months, and years trying in vain to get any kind of information about their disappeared loved ones from the government.

Among strict laws including mandated dress codes (no miniskirts or women in pants), hairstyles (men had to have short hair), appropriate reading materials and political parties (the Communist Party as well as student and worker unions and organizations were declared subversive and illegal), the right to organize or meet in public was also totally prohibited. After running into each other over and over in government offices while trying to locate their children, some mothers decided to get together to demand information about their kidnapped children. Since more than 2 people speaking in public was declared a meeting and therefore illegal, the mothers began marching on Thursdays, walking in groups of just two people, around the Plaza de Mayo, holding photos and signs about their missing children: they became the famous Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. These women were essentially the only group who, out of desperation, fear and love, stood up to this brutal dictatorship to demand information about their missing children. Several of the mothers themselves were disappeared after joining the marches, including two of the three founding mothers, tricked into a secret military ambush by the priest at a church that claimed to be helping them.

Even now, more than 30 years after it began, tens of thousands of victims remain disappeared. Despite investigative truth commissions, exposure and investigation of secret detention centers, and trials of the leaders of the military junta, most of the 30,000 disappeared remain that way. Mass graves have been found and some bodies identified, but the majority remains missing.

Over 100 children born to disappeared pregnant women have been recovered from military families who “adopted” them after birth, thanks to the Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo. This group is made up of women who were part of the Madres, but whose children were pregnant or when disappeared. These women demanded to know what happened to their grandchildren. Since the dictatorship ended, it has come to light that pregnant women were systemically kept alive till giving birth and then murdered, and then their babies were given to families of military personnel or those who were friendly with the dictatorship. The Abuelas, along with the support of the Kirchner presidents, created a national DNA database of those looking for grandchildren and those who feel they may have been adopted, and have successfully found 100 of these stolen children. Some of them, now in their thirties, have taken their adoptive parents to court, while others stay in contact with them after being reunited with their real families.

Credit ©Soon.News
https://soon.news/madres-de-la-plaza-de-mayo/

Others have fought hard against this truth coming out, the most famous being the children of Ernestina de Noble, the millionaire media mogul and owner of the Clarín Group, who acquired several of her lucrative businesses through cozy contacts with the dictatorship, as well as, likely, her children. The government’s strong support and pursuit of this high profile case, as well their investigations of the means through which the Clarín Group acquired their assets (in particular, Papel Prensa), explains why the Clarín newspapers, TV channels, radio stations and more have engaged so furiously in a public feud with the Kirchners, active supporters of human rights who maintain conflicting business interests with Clarín. If you are supplementing your Spanish learning by reading local newspapers, you’re likely to have come across some of this. Recently, the courts ruled that the children must submit DNA samples to be compared with the national database to determine if it matches a searching grandmother.

The march on Thursday, March 24 will bring together people from all factions of life, all ages, and all parts of the country. All kinds of social organizations, political groups, human rights supporters and friends and families of those who were disappeared come together to remember the atrocities that took place and to fight for justice, human rights, and the truth. However, it’s not a solemn, depressing event: It is both an event in honor of the victims and a celebration of them, of life, memory, human rights, and the truth. You’ll see lots of families, artists, political groups, students, workers’ unions, and more marching, celebrating, making music, chanting, and waving flags and banners of all sorts. It is an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of this country. There are endless signs and banners to decipher and many people are willing and eager to speak to you about their personal reasons for attending the march. If nothing else, it’s a spectacular site to see some many people coming together with such passion, and one you’re sure to always remember.


Over Forty Years Later, Madres and Abuelas of Plaza de Mayo Continue Fight for Justice after Military Dictatorship

From 1976 to 1983, approximately 30,000 people disappeared under the brutal military dictatorship that ruled in Argentina (Blakemore, 2019). Known as desaparecidos, the dictatorship’s victims, supposed political dissidents, were often tortured, raped, and dropped from planes so that their bodies could not be found (Blakemore, 2019). The goal of this “Dirty War” was to completely and totally erase the existence of the desaparecidos, instilling fear and confusion in the population (Blakemore, 2019). Additionally, babies were often stolen from detained pregnant women and either rehomed with a new family, abandoned, or sold on the black market (Blakemore, 2019).

Despite the extreme cost that dissent could have, two sister organizations gained notoriety for taking a stand against these human rights violations, the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. Both organizations are named after the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, home of the presidential palace, where fourteen women first marched on April 30, 1977 (Goñi, 2017). The Madres were the mothers of desaparecidos, while the Abuelas were the grandmothers of children who disappeared or mothers of pregnant desaparecidas. While their composition was slightly different, their goal was largely the same—to call attention to the atrocities and to reunite with anyone they could. Donning their now-iconic white headscarves, they ingeniously avoided a prohibited large gathering by walking in pairs (Goñi, 2017). This protest continued every Thursday, even through the kidnapping and murder of several of members (Blakemore, 2019). The dictatorship ended in 1983, in no small part due to the pressure of the Madres and Abuelas, and since then about 700 former members of the junta have been punished for their involvement in the Dirty War (Goñi, 2017).

Even after the military regime and many perpetrators were brought to justice, neither organization ceased its operations. In fact, both organizations still exist to this day, and they have boasted some significant accomplishments in the years following the dictatorship’s fall. The Abuelas, for example, have been able to track down 130 disappeared children and connect them with their biological families (History of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo). They have done so largely through the use of mitochondrial DNA testing, which is passed down from mother to child and therefore able to match a grandmother to a grandchild (Blakemore, 2019). Additionally, they pushed the Argentinian government to create the National Committee for the Right to Identity to facilitate achieving their longstanding goal of uniting disappeared children with their families (History of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo). The most recent case solved by the Abuelas and their DNA testing occurred the summer of 2019, when they were able to connect Javier Matías Darroux Mijalchuk, the son of disappeared Elena Mijalchuk and Juan Manuel Darroux, with his remaining family (Abuelas, 2019). Even as the dictatorship fell, the Abuelas’ work had just begun, and despite their old age, they have never stopped the search for their missing grandchildren and show no sign of doing so until they have solved every last case.

The Madres are perhaps even more active nowadays than the Abuelas but have a slightly more turbulent history. The original organization split into two, with Hebe de Bonafini heading the dominant, still-existing branch (Goñi, 2017). Bonafini, herself a mother of a desaparecido, is considered to be much more political than previous leaders of the organization and has gotten into trouble as a result (Goñi, 2017). Bonafini was involved in an organization called Sueños Compartidos (“Shared Dreams” in English) that built low-income housing but was wrought with scandal after improperly using government funds (Hernandez, 2016). The primary offenders were Sergio and Pablo Schoklender, and Bonafini was not directly implicated, but she nonetheless refused to cooperate with the courts, leading to an arrest warrant, though ultimately she escaped without any arrest or charges against her (Hernandez, 2016). The controversy did not stop her from leading the organization to continue its fight.

Under Bonafini’s leadership, the Madres have turned into a more multidimensional organization than they were at the time of their original founding, largely due to her deep interest in politics. Their primary purpose remains to remind Argentinians and people around the world of what happened and to bring to trial members of the military junta who are still walking free (Goñi, 2017). The Madres still march weekly in Plaza de Mayo and have completed well over two thousand marches to date (Jueves en la Plaza). Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the marches have continued online as a livestream reflection by Bonafini in her kitchen (Jueves en la Plaza). In addition to streaming their online “marches,” the Madres have adapted to the 21 st century and use virtually every social media platform. Through these platforms, Bonafini hosts a weekly show called Mateando con Hebe, which often features guests such as authors and even government officials (Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo).

The Madres have also dipped their toes in current events. Several members of the organization denounced former president Mauricio Macri for downplaying the number of desaparecidos and slowing down trials of the perpetrators, what they see as an erasure of the atrocities committed under the junta (Goñi, 2017). Bonafini, a staunch ally of former left-wing presidents Néstor Kircher and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, even further indicted Macri, saying that he had the potential to destroy all of the progress that had been made during the Kirchner years (Hernandez, 2016). Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Madres have launched a mural painting campaign to recognize frontline workers for their efforts (Comunicación Madres, 2020). Mateando con Hebe has featured health officials as guests throughout this period (Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo).

The persistence of the Abuelas and Madres of Plaza de Mayo to stay active from the late 1970s to today offers several points of reflection. First, they are a reminder that just because something appears in black and white in a history book does not mean that it is completely over and resolved. The goals of both organizations still have yet to be fully realized, and the fact that original members still are in charge is evidence of the fact that these atrocities really did not happen that long ago. Second, both the Madres and the Abuelas show that just because a particular leader or historical era came to pass in a literal sense does not mean that there was any actual closure to them. Though now several decades old, the wounds of the military dictatorship are still raw and continue to penetrate Argentinian society and collective memory. Finally, the Madres in particular give food for thought on how social movements can remain relevant years after the catalyst event during which they caught the world’s attention. The Madres have stuck to their core values and activities but also expanded and adapted to the times. They have managed to overcome controversy to stay relevant. The decade of the 2020s is off to a powerful start as many important social issues have come to a head. Even as issues like racial justice and healthcare inequalities start to dissipate from the front page, these issues still exist and continue to bring real harm to real human beings. Leaders of these movements may find inspiration in organizations like the Madres and Abuelas for staying relevant and making an impact even when the whole world’s eyes are not watching them.

Abby Neiser is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Political Science and Spanish with a minor in Portuguese and a Certificate in Latin American Studies. During the summer of 2019, she studied abroad in Cuba as part of the Pitt in Cuba program. She is also the President of the Luso-Brazilian Student Association at Pitt. Abby is primarily interested in Latin American politics, international relations, social movements, and the intersection between politics and artistic expression. Upon graduating, she plans to pursue a career in public service or international relations.


Plaza de Mayo

Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires reflects the history of Argentina, you will find here historical buildings like Metropolitan Cathedral, Cabildo, Casa Rosada, you will hear echo of Evita passionate speeches, witness silent protests of Mothers of Lost Children.

      It is probably the most important plaza in Buenos Aires reflecting the glory but also the dark times in the history of Argentina.

      Its origins can be traced to the foundation of Buenos Aires by Juan de Garay in 1580 who reserved this area for a future development of the Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre (as originally the settlement was named).

Early plans did not materialize and the area became a ground for a large Jesuits’ compound.

In 1661, understanding importance of this site for the expanding city, the colonial government purchased the grounds, demolished most of the Jesuits’ buildings and established here a vast plaza not surprisingly called Plaza de Armas.

After the next hundred fifty years of ups and downs, excessive use by military followed by periods of total neglect in 1804 the plaza underwent a modification adding more prestige to the place – an arcade called Recova Vieja (Old Arcade).

Plaza de Mayo: Recova Vieja
On the left side is visible the old building of the Teatro Colon.

Source: Wikipedia Author: Esteban Gonnet (1830 - 1868)

      This Romanesque-style structure was built by Juan Bautista Sigismund along the north-south line at the height of today’s Calle Defensa. It divided the Plaza de Armas into two entities called Plaza de la Victoria (facing colonial City Hall Cabildo) and Plazoleta del Fuerte (facing future Casa Rosada).

The next change brought year 1811 when the Pirámide de Mayo was erected at the center of the Plaza de la Victoria.

The area took its present shape in 1883 when the city mayor, Torcuato de Alvear decided to modernize this increasingly more and more prestigious area. As a result the beautiful colonnade Recova Vieja was demolished opening the space for what is today called Plaza de Mayo. Soon after under the supervision of Carlos Thays, Plaza de Mayo received new landscape with trees, palms and fountains.

Some may claim that over the major part of its history, the “physical landscape” of the Plaza de Mayo was not as rich and colorful as that of the city of Buenos Aires. However this apparent simplicity is overwhelmingly compensated by political and social events taking place on the Plaza de Mayo.

      From actions igniting May 1810 Revolution through oath of allegiance to the Constitution (1854) then 20th century political gatherings immortalized by Evita’s passionate speeches, followed by horrifying scenes of military violence and silent protests of Madres de Plaza de Mayo, (mothers of victims of the military dictatorship during Dirty Wars against leftists) - all that was happening here in a twisted succession of joy and desolation. Undoubtedly this plaza being for long a focal point of social and political life in Buenos witnessed many scenes from the tumultuous history of the nation.

To be part of the most memorable events from the Plaza de Mayo I picked-out two: Love & Compassion and on the opposite side of the spectrum Unspeakable Evil Doing. By no means I’m promoting these materials. I just wanted to give you better understanding of what Plaza de Mayo means to Argentinians. With sadness I can only say that these days Love & Compassion are vanishing from our lives and tragically The Crime (in multitude of its forms) is taking to the front pages….

Plaza de Mayo Argentina - Tragic events from 1955.

Note: This pictures is available ONLY in its reduced form
Source: Spotlight Buenos Aires - The Bombing of the Plaza de Mayo (posted by Brian Berenty)
Address: http://spotlightbuenosaires.com/bombing-of-plaza-de-mayo-buenos-aires-1955/

Below - few terrifying minutes recorded on the tapein 1955

And on the opposite side of the spectrum of events from the Plaza de Mayo you can watch the last speech by Evita addressing the crowd of "descamisados".

In recent years, due to the massive invasion of tourists, the Plaza de Mayo visibly changed its character. From the center of political gatherings it became a major tourist attraction flooded by foreign visitors.

White shawls painted on the ground remind the suffering, desperation and courage of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

The traces of the country’s turbulent past are still visible in form of white shawls painted on the ground, but obviously for foreigners they do not have the same emotional load.

These days, prominent buildings and historical monuments surrounding the plaza seem to be the major points of interest for gathering crowds.

Four fountains together with numerous trees including two rows of thick and strikingly straight Phoenix palms, few ceiba trees (its red flower was declared a National Flower of Argentina) and seemingly always blooming jacarandas add the freshness appreciated by everybody - especially during hot summer days.

Beautifully shaped street lamps dotting the plaza make the place even more charming….

For many, the turbulent events from the plaza’s past may darken that beauty, but let’s take the best out of it – optimism enhanced by present day’s ambiance and the belief that things can change for better.

A lonely olive tree planted in front of the Cathedral by the Archbishop of Buenos Aires on March 29, 2000 symbolizes the “Commitment to Peace”. Indeed there is no better place for such symbol of peace then here, on the Plaza de Mayo.

Following is a short description of points of interest on the Plaza de Mayo. Some of them are already described in great details on the dedicated pages of this website. Some will follow in the future.

Plaza de Mayo Argentina - Bird's view on the plaza and surrounding buildings.
1. Pirámide de Mayo
2. Casa Rosada
3. Former seat of the National Congress
4. Banco de la Nación Argentina
5. Metropolitan CAthedral
6. Cabildo (former City Hall)
7. Buenos Aires Government Palace
Source: Buenos Aires Ciudad - Office of Tourism

Casa Rosada (Pink House) – Casa de Gibierno

Casa Rosada – home of the executive branch of the Federal Government gathers attention of every visitor. For one – it may be its unusual pink color contrasting with everything else around. But my guess is that it was the movie “Evita” that made it legendarily famous across the Western Hemisphere and a central tourist attraction of Buenos Aires.

Plaza de Mayo - The former Post Office and State House shortly before their 1884 unification forming future Casa Rosada

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CasaRosada1890.png

     The construction of the main structure started in 1882 at the request of the President Julio Roca.

 Shortly after its completion, the new Government House was integrated with the neighboring – architectonically similar structure of the Post Office.

Following the 1898 eastward enlargement the government’s complex took its final shape.

The seemingly unusual pink color of its walls comes from an old colonial habit of painting outside walls with waterproofing mixture of lime, cow’s blood and tallow.

Some are adding to this act the political context believing that it was President Sarmiento’s conscious decision to defuse tensions between opposing parties by mixing red (color of Federales) and white (color of Unitarios) in this symbolic gesture of union.

    Whatever was the reason, today the name “Casa Rosada” is well recognized around the world unanimously pointing to Buenos Aires similarly as the name “White House” (Casa Blanca) in consciousness of most of the people is associated with Washington.

Casa Rosada - front view with the famous balcony from where Evita was giving her speeches to the crowds gathered on the plaza.

        Unfortunately the Casa Rosada is not open for tourists (exception is only a small museum), so its magnificent interior can be only seen by government officials, foreign dignitaries and special guests (If you have been one of them, then please help with pictures). Splendor of White Room, Winter Garden etc… may only feed our imagination…

And yes, we use our imagination to portray Evita Casa giving her passionate speeches from the balcony of Casa Rosada to hundreds of thousands of "descamisados" (shirtless ones or poor in other words) gathered on the plaza.

The building is guarded by soldiers in red & blue uniforms from the famous Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers created by the General San Martin back in 1812. Every two hours you can watch the ceremony of changing the guard.

Casa Rosada: View of the North Wing from the Calle Rivadavia,

View for the Plaza Colón

Plaza de Mayo:    Monument of General Belgrano.

The monument erected in 1873 is a combined work of the French sculptor Albert Carrier-Belleuse who carved the statue of the General Belgrano and the Argentinean artist Manuel de Santa Coloma who carved the horse. The bronze equestrian statue on a granite pedestal presents the Argentinean hero of Independence Wars, a politician and military leader General Manuel Belgrano holding the national flag. This symbolically reminds the fact that Manuel Belgrano is the creator of the Argentinean Flag (for the first time officially raised in 1813 during his historic battle of Salta).

Plaza de Mayo - Monument of the General Manuel Belgrano in front of the Pink House

Plaza de Mayo:    Pirámide de Mayo

Pyramid of May - work of an architect Pedro Vicente Cañete was erected in 1811 in the center of the Plaza de la Victoria. The obelisk crowned by an allegory of Liberty (work of French sculptor Joseph Dubourdieu) commemorates the first step toward independence from Spain – creation of “United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata” (Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata).

Plaza de Mayo - Photo of the "Plaza de la Victoria" from 1867 with the Pirámide de Mayo in the center.

Source: Colección César Gotta
Author: Benito Panunzi

  The inscription on the base “25 May 1810” evokes the beginning of the independence movement that started on this plaza. Pyramid of May underwent first major modifications in 1856 under direction of Prilidiano Pueyrredón. During the remodeling of the Plaza de Mayo in 1912 the monument was moved about 60 meters east.

In 1942 the Pyramid was declared a National Historical Monument. Another memorable event took place on December 8, 2005 when the ashes of the founder of “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” – Azucena Villaflor (murdered by military junta probably in 1977) were buried at the base of the Pyramid. The burial at the place where she organized the first protests is an act of respect and honor paid to Azucena for her courageous fight for Human Rights.

Plaza de Mayo - Allegory of Liberty tops the pyramid

Source: "Buenos Aires for 91 days" by Mike
Address: http://buenosaires.for91days.com/2011/03/23/the-plaza-de-mayo/

Present day view of the Pirámide de Mayo with the inscription indicating the beginning of revolutionary events that took place on this plaza.

Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)

      The history of Buenos Aires’ Metropolitan Cathedral is almost as old as that of Buenos Aires itself. The first wooden church in Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre was erected here in 1580 by an order of Juan de Garay – (the first ruler of the settlement).

The construction of the present Cathedral (6th one in the history of Buenos Aires) started in 1752. The design was commissioned to an Italian architect Antonio Masella. He proposed a magnificent three-aisled nave structure with the footprint of a Latin Cross and 6 lateral chapels covered by barrel vaults and an imposing dome.

Buenos Aires Cathedral: Facade

      In 1880 as a symbol of unification of Argentina, the mausoleum of the national hero – the Libertador José de San Martin was opened in the chapel on the right side of the main nave.

It is a work of the French sculptor Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.

The black marble sarcophagus is guarded by the three life-size female statues representing the countries freed by San Martin: Argentina, Chile and Peru.

The mausoleum holds also remains of famous generals from the time of Independence Wars – Tomás Guido and Juan Gregorio de las Heras as well as a symbolic tomb of “Unknown Fallen Soldiers”.

To read more from the history of the Metropolitan Cathedral and see pictures please select the link: Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral 

To continue the tour of the Plaza de Mayo please select the link:


Procedures for the Search of Our Grandchildren

Since 1976, we have pursued:

Investigations at local and federal courts, including cases of granted adoptions and also with regard to NN children (names unknown) who may have been recorded at those courts.

Investigations of all births registered in governmental offices after the conclusion of the normal legal term for such registration.

Beginning in 1997, we began informational campaigns to draw young people (of an approximate age range of our grandchildren) that may have doubts regarding their true identity to Abuelas. We have had very positive results

We continually publish announcements in local newspapers read by individuals who are aware of information relating to the kidnappings but who keep silent either due to complicity or fear. In addition, we distribute posters and leaflets with photographs and details of the disappearance of children.

When reports are made, all information is filed into folders containing individual accusations of each case, details of the disappearance, photographs of the child and/or his/her parents, identification documents, and habeas corpus that have been filed, among other information. Each person who makes the denouncement signs all these documents. A certificate of the mother's pregnancy is included, in a case where the detainee was pregnant, or a birth certificate of the child, in the event that the child was kidnapped after birth.

In our discourse, we make it clear that our grandchildren have not been abandoned they have the right to recover their roots and their history they have relatives who are constantly engaged in searching for them.

In the 30 years, we have been able to located 120 of the disappeared children, including 4 found by governmental commissions and 2 located by CLAMOR, the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in the Southern Cone.

Some of the children are already living with their legitimate families and have become perfectly integrated. Others are still living with the families that have raised them, but are in close contact with their true grandmothers and relatives. By being a part of two families, the children have recovered their identity.

There is a large number of disappeared children whose identities were completely annulled. In those cases, we use modern science to prove that they are members of a particular family. For this purpose, we rely on support from the scientific community in the field of genetics, hematology, morphology, and others.

Through our participation and effort in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, we were able to push for the inclusion of articles 7, 8 and 11, which refer to the right to an identity and are known as the "Argentine clauses." This International Convention was later incorporated into the Argentine Constitution, via law number 23,849.

In 1992, as a direct result of a petition we organized, the National Executive Power of our government created CONADI, the National Committee for the Right to Identity. The main objective of this organization is to assist young adults who doubt their identities by investigating all existing documents and referring them for blood analysis. Blood analyses are conducted by the National Bank of Genetic Data, which has the power to perform such analyses without legal intervention.


Plaza de Mayo (May Plaza), Buenos Aires (must see)

Plaza de Mayo is the oldest plaza in Buenos Aires. Its history began in 1580 when Juan de Garay founded Buenos Aires. The current plaza was laid out in 1884 and named to commemorate the May Revolution of 1810 that overthrew Spanish rule.

The Casa Rosada (pink house) dominates the Plaza de Mayo. This iconic building houses the Argentine national government and the president's office. Eva Perón famously addressed supporters from The Casa Rosada's balcony in 1951.

In 1811, the Pirámide de Mayo (May Pyramid) was erected nearby to commemorate the May Revolution of 1810. In 1912, the 18.76 meters (61.5 feet) tall Pirámide de Mayo was moved to its current location in the center of Plaza de Mayo.

The Equestrian Monument to General Manuel Belgrano is impressive. This monument represents Manuel Belgrano on horseback and was dedicated in 1873. Manuel Belgrano fought for independence from Spanish rule, created the Flag of Argentina, and is revered as one of the main liberators of Argentina.

Several historically and architecturally interesting buildings line the plaza. The original Cabildo, or town council building, was built in 1608. The current white colonial-style building was completed in 1751 and has undergone several renovations. The Cabildo is the only colonial-era government building still standing n the Plaza de Mayo.

Today, the Cabildo operates as the National Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution. Here, you will find colonial paintings and furniture. The views from the upper levels are wonderful. Don't miss the changing of the guard, every hour, in front of the Cabildo.

The 1914 City Hall was built in Second-Empire style and faces the plaza. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires is also located in the plaza.

As the oldest plaza in Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo has witnessed all the important events in Argentine history. Today, locals and tourists alike meet friends and eat lunch in the plaza.

Don't miss the changing of the guard, every hour, in front of the Cabildo.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Buenos Aires . Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.


Plaza de Mayo

The Plaza de Mayo is the central square in Buenos Aires, Argentina ever since the May 25, 1810, Revolution for Argentine independence. It is not only the gathering place for many portenos (native residents of Buenos Aires) and tourists, but also a rallying point for political movements and activism. The deeply-rooted political events that have marked the Plaza de Mayo history inspire visitors to view the Plaza as not only the cultural center of the capital city, but also as the political center as well. Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, a group of mothers and other women who have protested the disappearance of their children during a reprehensible political dictatorship in Argentina between 1976 and 1983 gather here every single Thursday afternoon to reinforce their solidarity and support of the cause that, even after all of these long years, largely remains unresolved and in many ways, unaddressed.

Many of the most iconic and popular attraction in all of Argentina are located in the Plaza de Mayo. These include the Casa Rosada (the presidential palace), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the Equestrian Monument to General Manuel Belgrano, as well as the Cabildo (the old city council building). You will also find a huge array of restaurants, clubs, cafes, bars, tango parlors, bookstores, and much more in this area. It is, after all, the center of public life in downtown Buenos Aires and where many residents and tourists go during the week and on the weekends to enjoy meeting new people and having fun. Even though the history of the Plaza de Mayo has not always been pleasant, at least in modern times it has come to be known as a place of peace, happiness, entertainment, and tourism.

The history of Buenos Aires intertwines with the history of this plaza as well. Every Thursday, the Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo gather here in peaceful protest, hoping and searching to find out what happened to their missing children. Las Madres are known for wearing white head scarves upon which their children&rsquos names are embroidered. It is difficult to conceive of the Plaza de Mayo history without factoring in the importance of this group of dedicated an unwaveringly committed women who simply want answers for what happened to their children during what has since become widely known as the Dirty War. This was a terrible time in the history of Argentina, when state-sponsored violence threatened the very way of life of everyone in the city. Over 10,000 people were taken and never heard from again, many of them killed. Thousands of children went missing, and difficult as it is to believe, many that were not killed were given to military families. To say that the Dirty War is a pock mark on the face of the Plaza de Mayo history, and the history of Argentina in general, is a sweeping understatement. Today, political tensions have long since eased, and the Plaza de Mayo is a place where people can once again gather together without fear of violence or torment.

Buenos Aires Map

Whether you come to this area of town to remember a tragic time in the country's history or whether you want to enjoy the many attractions in the general area, Plaza de Mayo is central and important and will likely factor into your time in the city in one way or another.


Plaza de Mayo and its Buildings

The Cabildo, located in Bolivar and Av. De Mayo, right in front of the Plaza de Mayo, saw within its walls these historical events that concluded with the emancipation of the Spanish crown and the beginning of the development of a nation. The Revolution of May 1810, took place in this building where the first open town hall was held. Its construction began in 1682, and completed 200 years later. In 1940, the architect Mario Buschiazzo reconstructed the aspect of the colonial Town hall, based on diverse historical documents.

The monument to Manuel Belgrano in Plaza de Mayo

Equestrian statue of General Manuel Belgrano, off Balcarce street across from the Casa Rosada, in Plaza de Mayo.

The Plaza de Mayo, Hipólito Yrigoyen Avenue

The Casa Rosada, the May Pyramid or Pyramid de Mayo, and the dome of the Municipal Palace in the background seen from Hipólito Yrigoyen Avenue

Plaza de Mayo, Balcarce Street

View of the pedestrian area of ​​Balcarce Street, Casa Rosada on the right and the Argentine National Bank in the background

The Argentine National Bank

Home to the Banco Nación, the main bank of Argentina, and the official public and national bank. In this building operated the first Colón Theater or National Opera House between 1857 and 1888. Project by the architect Alejandro Bustillo, built between 1940 and 1955. This is a magnificent construction, an outstanding example of the institutional architecture of the mid-twentieth century in Argentina.

The Plaza de Mayo has been witness to Argentina’s history.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires (of the Holy Trinity)

Incredible building of atypical neoclassical architecture – for a Church – with Greco influences. It sits on the corner of San Martín and Rivadavia streets. The original Catholic Cathedral was built in the XVIII century, the last one dates from the XX century. The portico was made in 1822 by Prospero Catelin and Pierre Benoit, inspired by the Palais Bourbon in Paris. The remains of the Liberator General San Martin lie here with eternal flames.

The Pyramid of 1811 in Plaza de Mayo

Built to commemorate the first anniversary of the May Revolution (la Revolución de Mayo), right at the center of the Plaza de Mayo.


Plaza de Mayo (May Plaza), Buenos Aires (must see)

Plaza de Mayo is the oldest plaza in Buenos Aires. Its history began in 1580 when Juan de Garay founded Buenos Aires. The current plaza was laid out in 1884 and named to commemorate the May Revolution of 1810 that overthrew Spanish rule.

The Casa Rosada (pink house) dominates the Plaza de Mayo. This iconic building houses the Argentine national government and the president's office. Eva Perón famously addressed supporters from The Casa Rosada's balcony in 1951.

In 1811, the Pirámide de Mayo (May Pyramid) was erected nearby to commemorate the May Revolution of 1810. In 1912, the 18.76 meters (61.5 feet) tall Pirámide de Mayo was moved to its current location in the center of Plaza de Mayo.

The Equestrian Monument to General Manuel Belgrano is impressive. This monument represents Manuel Belgrano on horseback and was dedicated in 1873. Manuel Belgrano fought for independence from Spanish rule, created the Flag of Argentina, and is revered as one of the main liberators of Argentina.

Several historically and architecturally interesting buildings line the plaza. The original Cabildo, or town council building, was built in 1608. The current white colonial-style building was completed in 1751 and has undergone several renovations. The Cabildo is the only colonial-era government building still standing n the Plaza de Mayo.

Today, the Cabildo operates as the National Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution. Here, you will find colonial paintings and furniture. The views from the upper levels are wonderful. Don't miss the changing of the guard, every hour, in front of the Cabildo.

The 1914 City Hall was built in Second-Empire style and faces the plaza. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires is also located in the plaza.

As the oldest plaza in Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo has witnessed all the important events in Argentine history. Today, locals and tourists alike meet friends and eat lunch in the plaza.

Don't miss the changing of the guard, every hour, in front of the Cabildo.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Buenos Aires . Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.


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