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The National History Museum & Lezama Park

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The biggest park in San Telmo is Lezama, a giant green hill which fills up on weekends with sun-bathers, mate drinkers and chess players, along with some market stands. The park also is home to the Museo Histórico Nacional.

Pedro De Mendoza

Eager to deepen our understanding of Argentine history, we visited the museum on one of our first days in Buenos Aires. It’s small. We were done in less than 20 minutes and didn’t learn much about Argentina’s history. I was expecting a primer in the country’s story, exhibits about the key points in Argentina’s development, but it was nothing like that.

That’s not to say it was a disappointment. At one peso, the museum is basically free and boasts some extraordinary pieces of art, including giant canvasses of Argentina’s revolutionary army, and portraits of its presidents. The collection of artwork and objects might resonate more with Argentinians already familiar with the stories, than with foreigners.

Parque Lezama itself is awash in history. It’s here that Pedro de Mendoza founded the city, way back in 1536, and the explorer is honored in the park with an impressive monument. Today, Lezama is a typically porteño mix of beauty and destitution. The colorful amphitheater on the park’s northern side serves mainly as a clubhouse/bathroom/shelter for homeless people, and a lovely path lined with statues is kept strictly protected bars.

Sunny weekends are the time to visit Lezama. Bring a blanket, your matecito, and (if you really want to emulate porteños) somebody to make out with, and enjoy one of the coolest chill-out spots in the city.

Location of Parque Lezama on our BA Map
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Lezama Park
Museo Historico Buenos Aires
Lion San Telmo
Lezama Mueseum
Bells Buenos Aires
Crazy Bird
Lezama
Protected
Naked Lady Run
Romulus-and-Remus
Sol Buenos Aires
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April 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm Comments (0)

The Museo Evita

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Evita the Movie

Just around the corner from Palermo’s Botanical Garden, the Evita Museum welcomes visitors with a big, toothy smile. We had been skeptical, but the quality of both the exhibits and the mansion won us over. The Museo Evita is really cool.

Don't Cry for me Argenina

Perhaps my initial skepticism was due to Andrew Lloyd Webber and company. When I think of Evita, the image that springs to mind is Madonna squealing discordantly to “her people” from the Casa Rosada’s balcony. I unconsciously associate Evita with over-the-top histrionics, and just assumed the museum would be as tasteless as the film.

But of course, María Eva Duarte Peron’s story is fascinating and, as one of history’s most important female political figures, she’s well deserving of a museum. The moment we entered the three-story Italian Renaissance mansion, I knew it would be a good experience. Evita purchased the house in 1948 as a part of her Social Aid Foundation, using it as a temporary home for poor women to “shelter those in need and those who have no home… for as long as necessary until work and a home can be found…”

In July 2002, exactly fifty years after Evita’s death, the museum opened to the public, and was an instant success. The exhibits are lovingly presented, and visitors learn about Eva’s life from her humble beginnings in Junín, through her rise to power, and her unfortunately early death. It’s almost entirely propaganda: you’re not going to find anything inside the museum about the darker sides of Juan and Evita’s rule. You can marvel over her fabulous dresses, but the very serious allegations of the couple’s fascist tendencies are politely left to the side.

But whatever. This is a place to remember and appreciate Evita’s positive deeds. You can get a sober analysis of history from books. And if you do happen to have a book with which you’d like to spend some time, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better place to do so than the museum’s cafe. With a gorgeous patio accessible from the street, you don’t even have to pay entrance to enjoy it.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
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Evita Museum
Evita Dragon
Evita Restaurant
Museum Evita
Evita Silver Face
Eva Peron Fashion
Evita Hat
Evita Dress
Sexy Evita
Evita Kitchen
Evita Garden
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April 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm Comment (1)

The Plaza de Mayo

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The History of Argentina

With the Casa Rosada to the west and the city hall to the east, the Plaza de Mayo is undoubtedly the political nexus of Argentina. From famous speeches to white-hooded mothers united in a call for justice, the plaza has long been the focal point of the country’s most compelling dramas.

Buenos Aires

One of the more famous scenes was the massive October 17th, 1945 demonstration of the descamisados, organized by Evita and the CGT Workers’ Union to demand the release of Juan Peron from prison. After decades of misrule by military juntas, the people finally demanded to be heard. And they were.

Ten years later, the plaza became the blood-soaked scene of the most devastating attack ever to occur on Argentine soil. Juan Peron was still in office, empowering workers, and the country’s military leaders didn’t like that… not one little bit. As the opening salvo in an attempted coup d’etat, the country’s army and air force flew over the Plaza de Mayo and bombed a rally being held to support Peron. 355 died, and damage from the shrapnel is still visible today.

But the plaza’s most enduring image is that of the weekly Thursday vigils of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. During the Dirty War (1976-1983), the conservative government kidnapped, murdered and disappeared the remains of tens of thousands of young, liberal Argentinian men and women. Families were given no information as to the fate of their children, and in the face of government indifference, a group of mothers banded together in a call for justice. They donned white shawls and marched every Thursday around the Plaza de Mayo, silently pressing the government for answers.

It’s difficult to overestimate the bravery of these women. They congregated in full view of their children’s assassins, comfortably seated in the Casa Rosada, tacitly daring them to either arrest or murder a group of peaceful women. And in fact, their gamble wasn’t without consequence. Government operatives would occasionally sneak into the group, and a few mothers were disappeared themselves.

Every visitor to Buenos Aires is going to find themselves in the Plaza de Mayo at some point. On a sunny day, and especially at dusk when the setting sun illuminates the Casa Rosada, it can be beautiful. The country’s turbulent history may darken that beauty, but also makes it richer.

Plaza de Mayo on our Buenos Aires Map
Cheap Flights to Buenos Aires

Monument Plaza
Gaucho
Flag Argentina
Casa Rosada
Running Lady
Plaza Mayo Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo
Tower Buenos Aires
Bell Men
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Fountain Buenos Aires
In the STORM
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March 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm Comments (4)
The National History Museum & Lezama Park
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