Cabildo Buenos Aires Argentina
The “Cabildo” is witness to 418 years of political and social history in the Republic of Argentina. The Argentine government declared the building as a national monument in 1933 and the building is now a museum.
The building and its patrimony evoke the rich social and political history that formed Argentina, and is testament to its proud heritage and national identity.
Long before Casa Rosada, Colon Theater and the Obelisk were constructed, the Cabildo was the main political institution and architectural attraction in Buenos Aires city.
I remember my first field trip to the Cabildo. A classic that sticks firmly in my mind, just like when I lived in the United States and my teacher took us to see the Liberty Bell.
On any day you will see scores of schoolchildren, white coated ‘cherubs’, flocking to the Cabildo in order to re-live our history. Every Argentine child knows that during a rainy week of May of 1810, porteños stood in the muddy Plaza de Mayo with their umbrellas waiting for news from inside the Cabildo (very similar to the faithful crowding the square of the Vatican while waiting for the smoke that signals a new Pope).
The news they eagerly awaited was about the self-determination of the Viceroyalty of the Rio del la Plata whilst a Joseph Bonaparte usurped the Spanish throne.
In commemoration of our bicentennial year, the museum has recently undergone a full restoration and the many exhibits that chart our history modernized with the latest technology and media to ensure a fun and enlightening exhibit for visitors of all ages.
Amazingly, restoration work took just 50 days and involved an investment of over 3 million pesos. Some 50 workers toiled 7 days a week. Workman used two thousand six hundred liters of donated lime to whiten the Cabildo’s façade riddled with graffiti from protests that take place in the square. The original door, damaged by spray-paint, needed full and costly restoration. This mindless defacing of our proud history tolerated. Every time somebody sprays paint on the walls of the Cabildo, they cause more damage than they know.
The Cabildo, built for eighteenth century suffers a daily twenty-first century pounding from the vibrations of the Subway to air pollution from the traffic – we must care for our heritage.
Elina Tassara, who also worked in the restoration of the Sistine Chapel, expertly completed the work with amazing results. The exhibit halls are spacious, luminous with new furnishings and ‘giantography’, and new technologies that allow visitors to interact with history.
On the ground floor is the reconstruction of Buenos Aires first prison. This is the only section of the original eighteenth century structure that suffered the changes of architectural tastes and style. At the end of the nineteenth century, city planners decided to change the colonial face of Buenos Aires to ensure a progressive modern European feeling throughout the city – it worked.
On the first floor, visitors find the town hall, refurbished with original furnishings circa 1810. In addition, for the first time, the visitors can access the balcony of the Cabildo from where our early government announced to the eagerly awaiting crowd on the Plaza De Mayo that we would not recognize a new king imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte. The views of the square and the Pink House make for a great photo opportunity. In addition, the new exhibits feature the first printer ever, an original invitation to the Cabildo dated 22May 1810 and a flag captured from the British Invasions.
The Cabildo you visit today is a reconstruction of the original building completed between 1938 and 1940 by the architect Mario Buschiazzo. The windows, door, the tower and the clock are not original. Notwithstanding that, this exhibit captures our glorious history so wonderfully that tourists must make time to visit!
Stroll through the patio amongst the trees that protected our founding fathers from the scorching summer sun. Thursdays and Fridays, a select group of the city’s best artisans offers their handcrafts and interacts with the visitors exploring the roots of the Argentine culture.