It’s the oldest plaza in the city
But it hasn’t always been this big, nor had that name. In 1580, the founder of the city, Juan de Garay, created a plaza called Plaza Mayor in the part of town that today is limited by Rivadavia Ave., Hipólito Yrigoyen St., Defensa St, y Bolívar St. Towards the west, in what today is Rivadavia Ave., Yrigoyen St., Defensa St. and Balcarce Stt, there was a plot of barren land that in time would be known as Plaza de Armas.
Both plazas were unified in 1884, creating the 2-hectare plaza we know today. Its name honours the Argentinean Revolution for Independence of 1810.
La Recova of Buenos Aires
Between the first two plazas there used to be a building called La Recova built in 1804. It consisted of two big structures, with 11 arches each, united in the middle by a grand arch which connected both plazas. This building was the 1st market of the city. Here people came to buy shoes, clothes, meat and vegetables. It was demolished in 1884 to create the Plaza de Mayo.
The Pirámide de Mayo
Built in 1811, it is the first patriotic monument of the city. It celebrates the first anniversary of the May Revolution. But the monument we see today is not the original. The original monument is hidden inside the structure we see today. By 1856, the pyramid was very neglected, so the artist Prilidiano Pueyrredon restored it. He built a new pyramid around it and added a small Statue of Liberty that wears Phrygian cap in representation of the Argentinean Republic.
The Hollow of the Souls
It was believed that in today’s corner of Reconquista St and Rivadavia Ave. there used to be a place where the devil and the witches gathered to perform rituals. It was an area with unfinished buildings where the homeless laid to sleep. As the first Colon Theatre as built, the hollow disappeared.
The western part of the plaza was the place for public executions. Thieves were hanged or shot in front of the people. Their bodies were left hanging for a couple of hours.
In 1609 the first bullfight was organized on what used to be Plaza Mayor. It took two centuries to finally forbid them. Until then, the balconies of the buildings around the plaza were rented as theatre boxes, while the authorities and the most important people watched the bullfight from the balcony of the Cabildo (the house of government). These bullfights were followed by different performances with actors, dwarfs and masks.
In the area where today we find the Pink House, there used to be a stone fortification built in 1598 to keep European pirates away. Although the fort was demolished in 1882, you can see find some of its walls in the Pink House Museum.
Plaza de Mayo is one of the highlights of our Free Walking Tour City Center!