January 2nd, 2018
Buenos Aires is the second largest city in South America and the capital of Argentina. It is located on the Rio de la Plata, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
By the end of the 19th century, Buenos Aires was becoming one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Famed architects came from Europe to build beautiful mansions, impressive monuments and wide boulevards.
Having their economy now declined, the city is a mixture of old world charm with an infrastructure that is in bad need of repair. Things just don’t seem to work smoothly, but I will write more about that in a later post.
This was our last full day on the cruise, as we disembark in the morning.
Having seen the “Evita” movie (twice) as well as the play, I was curious to see if they were more fact or fiction. Doing the “Evita – Her life in Buenos Aires” tour hopefully would fill in the blanks.
As a plus, we got to see some of the highlighted places in the city from the bus as well as a couple of photo stops.
She had a very humble childhood, in fact was illegitimate and came to the big city, all by herself at the young age of 15.
The museum is housed in a mansion where her charity, the Eva Peron Foundation once gave shelter to single mothers.
She was beloved by mass numbers of Argentinians, mostly the working class who she championed. Her social justice programs were legendary, and she became known lovingly as “Evita”.
Her involvement in politics and social work made her a legend and her untimely death from uterine cancer at only 33 magnified her legend. No photography was allowed inside the museum with the exception of the courtyard.
However, as loved as she was by the working class, many of the wealthy, elite shunned and hated her.
Famous scenes and photos of Evita have been shown of her standing on the balcony of the Casa Rosada (Pink House) which is the Presidential Palace.
After her death, a coup removed Peron from office, and her body was “kidnapped” and kept from the public for sixteen years. Later it was found to be buried in Milan, Italy under the name of “María Maggi”. After a long and fascinating journey, eventually, her body was returned to Buenos Aires to be buried under her family name, “Duarte” in the famous Recoleta Cemetery.
“In 1971, Evita’s body was exhumed and flown to Spain, where Juan Perón maintained the corpse in his home. Juan and his third wife, Isabel, decided to keep the corpse in their dining room on a platform near the table. In 1973, Juan Perón came out of exile and returned to Argentina, where he became president for the third time. Perón died in office in 1974. His third wife, Isabel Perón, whom he had married on 15 November 1961, and who had been elected vice-president, succeeded him. She became the first female president in the Western Hemisphere. Isabel had Eva Perón’s body returned to Argentina and (briefly) displayed beside her husband’s. Perón’s body was later buried in the Duarte family tomb in La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires.” ~ Wikipedia
Over 6400 architecturally diverse mausoleums make up this virtual city.
Graves of some of the most notable people from Argentina are buried here, including Presidents, Nobel Prize winners and a granddaughter of Napoleon. And of course, Evita!
“In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries, and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.” ~ Wikipedia
A slide show of a variety of sites to give an overview of how grand this cemetery is:
We also visited the cathedral that was the former church where Jorge Mario Bergoglio presided. He is better known today as Pope Francis.
“The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires) is the main Catholic church in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is located in the city center, overlooking Plaza de Mayo, on the corner of San Martín and Rivadavia streets, in the San Nicolás neighbourhood.” ~ Wikipedia
This is also the burial place for General Jose de San Martin, Generals Juan Gregorio de las Heras and Tomás Guido, as well as those of the Unknown Soldier of the Independence. Guards stand respectfully at the entrance to the mausoleum, which (kind of) reminded me of our 24 hour guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C.
General San Martin is considered a hero for the role he played in the war against the Spanish Empire to obtain independence for Argentina. He also was instrumental in liberating both Peru and Chile.
Ever since the revolution of May 25th, 1810 that led to Argentine independence, this city square has played a pivotal role in the political life of Buenos Aires. The enormous May Pyramid dominates the center of the plaza.
A couple other notable places we passed by included the Torre Monumental (clock tower) which was a gift from the British and Floralis Genérica, a gigantic metal mechanical flower that opens in the morning and closes at night.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we had the opportunity to get our first introduction to a city that has long-held a mystical intrigue. I am a little on the fence at the moment. I want to love Buenos Aires, but we have not found that warm welcome feeling we had hoped for. We do have several more days here on our own though so she definitely has plenty of time to redeem herself. Keeping an open mind and heart…