Plazas in Latin American Cities
For tourists visiting medium or large sized Latin American cities, the Plaza (or plazas) is/are almost always the very best place to start.
A plaza often serves as the core of the city, combining governmental buildings, holy places, indoor and outdoor shopping, architectural offerings and historical and artistic treasures all in one pedestrian-friendly area.
The history of the plaza may be a combination of indigenous market and worshipping areas that evolved into a standard town center, combined with the propensity that the conquering Spanish had toward plazas (witness, for example Madrid's famous Plaza de Colón or Plaza Mayor). Throughout Central and South America, cities were built surrounding the square or rectangular plaza, which first worked as an area where miltary units could muster, and also included most of the governmental adminstration buildings and courts of law.
Our neighors to the south boast breathtaking plazas in their two largest metropolitan areas: in Mexico city is Plaza de la Constitución, first began by Cortés himself, while Guadalajara boasts a series of interconnected plazas in the heart of the city (pictured here).
Other than Cortés' own creation, and the famous Plaza Mayor in Madrid, other world famous plazas include:
Agentina's Plaza de Mayo- Where mothers of Argentina's desaparecidos (missing children) gathered for over 25 years in protest against the censorship, violence and human rights abuses that occurred during that country's dirty war.
Plaza Tapatía- Pictures of which are posted here, this plaza sits in the heart of Guadalajara and is said to be the origin of mariachi music. Hint to tourists: the visitor's center is also here!