Art and Architecture
Early Argentine art is derivative, but today’s Buenos Aires is the heart of a vigorous contemporary painting, sculpture, and multimedia scene. The city has only a handful of late colonial constructions around the Plaza de Mayo.
Argentina’s finest colonial art and architecture survives in the northwest, on an axis that runs south from Jujuy and Salta through Tucumán and Córdoba. Contrasting with Mesopotamia’s verdant subtropical vegetation, bright red sandstone blocks distinguish Mesopotamia’s colonial Jesuit missions; Guaraní artisans crafted the elaborate adornments.
Arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) and transfer to a Buenos Aires hotel. Visit main historic sites like the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada presidential palace, and the Congreso Nacional.
A full day’s sightseeing includes colonial San Telmo (home to Buenos Aires’s finest filete and the Museo de Arte Moderno) and the vernacular architecture of La Boca, a barrio that’s also home to the Museo Quinquela Martín and the Fundación Proa.
Visit the Francophile mansions of Retiro, Recoleta, and Palermo, and any of the key art museums such as the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo de Arte Decorativo, and especially the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano Buenos Aires — MALBA, and private galleries in Retiro and Recoleta.
Travel overland to the historic Jesuit mission at San Ignacio and other ruined missions en route, with an overnight at the city of Posadas. From Posadas, time permitting, take an excursion across the Paraguayan border to the well-preserved missions of Trinidad and Jesús.
Fly to Buenos Aires, then on to the colonial city of Salta. Visit the city’s key colonial churches, monuments, and museums.
Take an excursion to the archaeological sites and colonial monuments of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a World Heritage Site in nearby Jujuy Province. Overnight in Purmamarca or in Tilcara, site of several notable provincial art museums.
Return to Salta, continuing to Cafayate, the pre-Columbian ruins of Quilmes, and the museums at Santa María. Overnight in Cafayate.
Travel overland to Cachi, visiting several colonial churches and Cachi’s archaeological museum, returning to Salta via Parque Nacional Los Cardones and the scenic Quebrada de Escoipe. Catch a return flight to Buenos Aires or, if the timing’s right, direct to Córdoba.
From Buenos Aires take a morning flight to Córdoba, with an afternoon visit to Jesuit constructions at Manzana de las Luces, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Jesuit ruins and museum at Alta Gracia.
Return to Buenos Aires. Spend the afternoon visiting Belgrano art museums, including Museo Yrurtia, Museo Larreta, and Museo Badii.
Full-day excursion to the gaucho capital of San Antonio de Areco, home to many artists and artisans. Alternatively, a ferry across the River Plate to the World Heritage Site of Colonia, Uruguay, a walled city that’s one of the Southern Cone’s best-preserved colonial sites.
Day-trip to La Plata, the Buenos Aires provincial capital created as a planned city in the late 19th century.
Spend your last day exploring Buenos Aires before an evening departure.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition