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Visiting Plaza Lavalle, Buenos Aires, Argentina: expanse of restful, urban greenery amidst monumental buildings

Updated on March 30, 2016
Flag of Argentina
Flag of Argentina | Source
General Juan Lavalle
General Juan Lavalle | Source
Lavalle Square, seen from South to North; the Column in memory of Juan Lavalle can be seen.
Lavalle Square, seen from South to North; the Column in memory of Juan Lavalle can be seen. | Source
Western entrance of the Colon Opera House seen from Lavalle Square, Buenos Aires.
Western entrance of the Colon Opera House seen from Lavalle Square, Buenos Aires. | Source
Palacio de Tribunales, Lavalle Square, Buenos Aires
Palacio de Tribunales, Lavalle Square, Buenos Aires | Source
Scene from the Revolution of the Park (Revolucion del Parque), drawing. Herrera de Noble, Ernestina (2010). (Hipolito Yrigoyen edicion). Editorial Sol 90.
Scene from the Revolution of the Park (Revolucion del Parque), drawing. Herrera de Noble, Ernestina (2010). (Hipolito Yrigoyen edicion). Editorial Sol 90. | Source

Peaceful now, but the scene of tumultuous events

In the Downtown area of this huge metropolis, this quiet, green expanse is called Plaza Lavalle (Lavalle Square). It is named for the Argentinian Independence-era historical figure General Juan Lavalle (1797-1841), who engaged in a number of significant military campaigns and also served as Governor of Buenos Aires Province in 1828-29. A column in memory of General Lavalle stands in the Plaza. This structure dates from 1887 and is the work of Uruguayan Pietro Costa (1).

Species of tree found in Plaza Lavalle include: Brazilian coral tree (common to northern Argentina), palm, southern magnolia, Austalian kauri and ceiba. Some of these examples are over a century old.

The Plaza might look calm and peaceful now, but events in the Plaza once gave their name to a sanguinary Revolution which played out here. In 1890, following the Revolution of the Park (Spanish: Revolución del Parque) President Miguel Ángel Juárez Celman (1844-1909) was overthrown (2) amid widespread economic uncertainties.

Plaza Lavalle is well known for being faced by various, promiment, monumental buildings, among the most famous of which is the Teatro Colón (Columbus Theatre). Dating from 1908, this gargantuan edifice was quite simply among the biggest opera houses in the world, when it was opened. In eclectic style, but crowned with a large, Neoclassical pediment, its principal architects were Francesco Tamburini (1846-1891), Víctor Meano (1860-1904)(3) and Julio Dormal (1846-1924); artist Raúl Soldi (1905-1994) later contributed greatly to interior renovation.

The Teatro Colón has been the venue for fine performances of some of the world's great musical works; its inaugural concert was a performance of Verdi's Aida. In both 1912 and 1941 Toscanini conducted its orchestra. In the early years of the 21st century the Teatro Colón underwent a major program of refurbishment. Luciano Pavarotti sang here.

I recall that once when I was visiting the Plaza I saw the President of Argentina arrive in his limousine, in order to attend a function at the Teatro Colón.

Another monumental building which faces onto Plaza Lavalle is the Palacio de Tribunales, the seat of the Supreme Court of Argentina. Its architect was Norberto Maillart, and was built between 1905 and 1942.

Other buildings which face Plaza Lavalle include the National Cervantes Theatre (Spanish: Teatro Nacional Cervantes), the Synagogue of the Argentinian Israelite Congregation (Spanish: Sinagoga de la Congregación Israelita Argentina)(4) , the Presidente Roca School and the Mirador Massue, dating from 1903, with a prominent, ornate tower.

Bookworms may note that Plaza Lavalle is often frequented by the sellers of secondhand books.

In many respects, Buenos Aires, for the monumentality of its public buildings, the extent of its cultural manifestations and the sheer cosmopolitan nature of its population is evocative of the idea of a Latin American version of Paris; this impression is particularly strong in the vicinity of Buenos Aires's Plaza Lavalle. The massive creation of architects such as Meano and Maillart are arguably at least somewhat redolent of the works of Garnier and Haussmann in the French capital.

February 25, 2016


(1) See also (in Spanish) :

(2) Technically President Juárez Celman resigned, but the momentum of the Revolution of the Park constructively forced him from office; he was replaced as President by the sitting Vice President Carlos Pellegrini.

(3) Architect Víctor (or Vittorio) Meano was also responsible for the design of the Palace of the Argentinian Nation's Congress (Spanish: Palacio del Congreso de la Nación Argentina), Buenos Aires, and for the Legislative Palace (Spanish: Palacio Legislativo), Montevideo, Uruguay.

(4) Argentina has the largest Jewish population of Latin America.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Map location of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Map location of Buenos Aires, Argentina | Source

Also worth seeing

The visitor attractions of Buenos Aires are too numerous to summerize here adequately, but a few of these include the 'Casa Rosada' Presidential Palace, situated at the opposite end of the Avenida de Mayo from the Congress Palace and the monumental Obelisk on Avenida 9 de Julio . Travellers to Buenos Aires may also find an excursion convenient to Montevideo (distance: 230.4 kilometres) in neighbouring Uruguay.


How to get there : United Airlines flies from Washington-Dulles Airport to Ministro Pistarini International Airport (or: 'Ezeiza'; Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini), Buenos Aires , where car rental is available. Visitors should check with appropriate consular sources regarding any visa requirements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date travel information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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