Saturday, January 21, 2012
Congress Palace and Casa Rosada – Sunday in Buenos Aires.
The Palacio de Congresso (Congress Palace) is an imposing Greek-Roman style building. It is also a good example of the concept for Buenos Aires for taking architectural ideas from the world’s most famous buildings and incorporating them into the city. Designed by Italian architect, Vitorrio Meano (who also designed Teatro Colon) and constructed from granite covered in gleaming white marble, the palace resembles the U.S. Capitol Building. The views from our vantage point in the Plaza de Congresso (Congress Plaza) with the Greek Doric style columns in front and the copper covered dome gleaming in the afternoon sun made for some great photographs. The plaza which features the Monumento a los Dos Congressos (Monument of the Two Congresses) is also the place where many protests have taken place. There seemed to be a semi permanent collection of booths and a group of people regaling the state of the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) and the war. I was unsure what they actually wanted but it was interesting to watch their relatively quiet protest as police and guards patrolled. A 10 block walk down Avenida de Mayo, at the other end and facing the Congress Palace is Casa Rosada (the Pink House). As we strolled along the boulevard we passed some amazing granite and limestone buildings with adorned balconies constructed either from carved stone balustrades or ornate wrought iron and tiled or copper cupolas, towers and domes. As we approached Plaza de Mayo and La Casa Rosada, the sun was starting to set, bathing it in extraordinary shades of coral and pink. Possibly the most photographed building in the city, Casa Rosada or its official name Casa de Gobierno (Government House) has been the seat of the executive branch of the government of Argentina since the late 19th century. The picturesque Italian Renaissance style “house” is stunning and as I stood on front of it, I could easily picture Eva Peron standing at the balcony facing the plaza rallying the “descamisados, the low income workers or Pope John Paul II when he visited in 1998, waving to the crowds. Today though, no-one is on the balcony and the crowds made up of tourists and Argentineans alike are soaking up the early evening sun and the sights and sounds of a bustling city. The biggest surprise for us came at 6:50pm when a group of ceremonial palace guards in full uniform marched out of the house and around the plaza. As the clock tower rang at 7pm, one played the bugle as the others gathered around the flagpole for the lowering of the Argentinean flag. The bugle with its hauntingly simple tone and melody filled the square and it was beautiful to watch as the Argentineans respectfully stood with hands over their hearts paying homage as the flag was lowered and taken away. Instead of walking the 10 blocks back to the car, Pablo and Cesar suggested taking the subway and Tom and I jumped at the opportunity. As we descended into the well-lit, tiled tunnel that make up the underground train system it reminds me of subways I have been in all over the world. The sights, smells and sounds are all so similar. There was a vintage train on the platform and as we waited for our train, we took photos of it and the guard. The subway ride back to the car was quick and uneventful but we were grateful for the chance to experience another aspect of the city. Everyone was tired. It has been a long day and the dogs have been alone at home. We decide that instead of eating dinner in the city, we will go back to Pilar, check on the dags and then go to Siga La Vaca (Follow the Cow) parrilla for dinner. What a day! EL Ateneo, Plaza San Martin, San Telmo, La Boca, Congress Palace and Casa Rosada, phew!