Congreso is an historic district that surrounds the building Congreso, at the western terminus of the Avenida de Mayo. In addition to Congreso, the neighborhood contains other grand and imposing buildings, some almost imperial in scale and design. Together, these three Districts give downtown a vibrant mix of work, live and play environments. On our walking tour through the downtown districts, there were several other points of interest worth mentioning, including Plaza de Mayo, Cabildo, Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Presidential Palace.
Plaza de Mayo | May Square
Among the three most important historic buildings on the plaza are the Cabildo (the former seat of the Colonial government); the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral — now famous as Pope Francis’ former parish; and, of course the Presidential Palace, or Casa Rosada.
The building of the Cabildo was proposed by the city’s Mayor in 1608 on what is now the Plaza de Mayo. Financed with taxes from the port of Buenos Aires, the building was finished in 1610, but was soon found to be too small and had to be expanded. Due to lack of maintenance, by 1682 the building was almost in ruins, and a new Cabildo with 2 stories and 11 arches wide was planned. Construction of the new building did not start until July 23, 1725, but because of a continued lack of funds the tower of the new Cabildo was not finished until 1764, and the remainder of the building not finished until well after the May Revolution in 1810. In 1880 the tower was raised by 10 meters and with a dome covered with glazed tiles, instead of the traditional colonial red tiles. The tower was demolished nine years later in 1889 to create space for the Avenida de Mayo avenue and the three northernmost arches of the original eleven were demolished. To create room for the Julio A. Roca avenue, the three southernmost arcs were removed in 1931, restoring the central place of the tower, but leaving only five of the original arches, which can be seen in my photograph below.
Today, the Cabildo hosts the National Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution (Museo Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo) in which paintings, artifacts, clothes and jewellery of the 18th century are on display.