We spent the fifth day in Buenos Aires walking the streets and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. After I dealt with the Supreme Court cases issued that morning, we went for a stroll and ended up at one of the oldest cafes and eventually the tomb of Gen. Jose Martin. We also met up with an old friend from Chicago (originally from Buenos Aires) and went to a restaurant just listed among the top 100 in the world. Yes, more eating. Argentinians love to sit and talk and eat and drink until the wee hours of the day.
We first went to the Café Tortoni, founded in 1958, and named after a Parisian café. It’s current entrance (it moved in 1880) was designed by architect Alejandro Christophersen. Famous visitors have ranged from Albert Einstein to Federico Garcia Lorca to Hillary Clinton. The room is beautiful and captures the Parisian influence in this grand city.
We then walked to the Pink Palace and the tomb of the beautiful Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral on the Plaza de Mayo. The foundations for the Cathedral began in 1580 and reveals a mix of different architectural styles and art pieces from neo-Rennaissance to Neo-Baroque. The Cathedral was rebuilt in 1662 and has three naves. It was plagued with problems due to poor materials and had to be repeatedly put through major rebuilding. In 1752, the nave collapsed and Italian architect Antonio Masella again rebuilt the cathedral into a more extravagant structure. (Masella was later arrested, tried, and acquitted for crimes but he largely finished his work).
Put in charge of the project, and the works began already in 1753, Masella designed a majestic church, much larger than the previous structure, with a three-aisled nave covered with barrel vaulting and lateral chapels. A dome was to sit over the crossing. Upon completion of the dome, however, fissures in the structure were detected and it had to be rebuilt. Masella was removed from the project and prosecuted by the authorities, although later acquitted. Yet, the dome was rebuilt by Portuguese architect Manuel Álvarez de Rocha after 1770 and the façade was again demolished and rebuilt. Those rebuilds continued but the church had taken its signature shape as a Latin Corss with transept and three aisles. The gilded wood of the altarpiece in Rococo dated from 1785.
One of the highlights (particularly for us military history buffs) is the final resting place of General José de San Martín: Interred in 1880. The gorgeous mausoleum is the work of French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, who created a black sarcophagus guarded by three life-size female figures that represent Argentina, Chileand Peru. Martin freed all three regions in his illustrious career. The remains of Generals Juan Gregorio de las Heras and Tomás Guido, as well as those of the Unknown Soldier of the Independence are also present in the honored resting place.
After walking more around the city, we then met our friend Laura at Don Julio, a restaurant just listed as the best in Argentina and one of the top 100 restaurants in the world. We did not have reservations and it was very crowded with media and diners after its distinction. As we waited outside, the restaurant brought us wonderful empanadas and champaign. We then had a great meal with one of the best ribeye steaks that I have ever enjoyed. I also particularly liked the spinach and Provoleta, fried cheese. I would not necessary call it the best restaurant in Buenos Aires (more of that later) but it was a very warm and welcoming restaurant with excellent food and a great wine list.
We returned (as usual) stuffed to the hotel and loving this city.