Buenos Aires is the biggest city and the capital of Argentina. It is situated on the Rio de la Plata and is the second biggest city in South America, with Sao Paulo being the largest. Buenos Aires covers an area of seventy-eight square miles and has a population of over three million people. Originally, the city was named after the Nostra Signora di Bonaria sanctuary. This city can trace its roots back to the early sixteenth century, when the adventurer Juan Diaz de Solis discovered the Rio de la Plata. In 1536, the city was founded as Ciudad de Nuestra Senora Santa María del Buen Ayre by a Spanish expeditionary force that was headed by Pedro de Mendoza. This original site is located to the south of what would become the center of Buenos Aires.
This settlement was plagued by attacks, however, and the location was abandoned. It wouldn’t be until 1580 that the permanent location of the city would be established by Juan de Garay. He named the colony Santisima Trinidad and its port became known as the Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires. It wasn’t long before the city began to thrive and its major economic activity would be as a trade hub. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, all trade traffic was required to pass through Lima, Peru so that tariffs could be collected by the Spanish government. This outraged the city government of Buenos Aires and they quickly scrambled to develop a contraband industry to compete. This development led the king of Spain, Charles III, to lift trade restrictions and declare Buenos Aires an open port in the late seventeenth century. This action failed to achieve the desire effect of placating the citizens of Buenos Aires and the citizens of the city became convinced that independence from Spain was going to be necessary.
In the early nineteenth century, the British invaded the Rio de la Plata and launched several attacks on Buenos Aires. Largely, these attacks were unsuccessful and the local militias of the city were able to repel the British invaders. Eventually, anti-Spanish sentiment increased and the citizens of the city ousted the Spanish Viceroy and found their own provisional government. Independence from Spain was officially declared in 1816. During the nineteenth century, Buenos Aires was blockaded several times by foreign naval forces. The first blockade was launched by the French between 1838 and 1840. The second blockade was launched by a combine Anglo-French naval force between 1845 and 1848. Both of these attempts were unsuccessful and they failed to force the city into submission.
During the early twentieth century, Buenos Aires became the preferred destination for immigrants from all over Europe, but particularly for immigrants from Italy and Spain. This influx of poor European immigrants led to a large urban sprawl around the industrial centers of the city. These impromptu settlements had appalling living conditions and were often referred to as “miserable villages”. This presented an image which was in stark contrast to what the Argentinian government had envisioned as the image of the country as a whole. As a result, great public works and construction projects were began to lift the image of the city.
Today, Buenos Aires is the commercial and industrial center of Argentina. It is also the distribution center for the country, as its port is one of the busiest in South America. The cities economic activities can be broken down into the areas of advertising, financial industries, banking and tourism. Over three hundred hotels and hostels are licensed by the Buenos Aires Board of Tourism and the city is quickly becoming one of the premier tourist destinations in South America. Of the three hundred hotels in the city, twenty-three are five star, sixty-one are four star, fifty-nine are three star and eighty seven are two stars. The rest of the hotels are composed of one star hotels and hostels. This makes over twenty-seven thousand rooms available to tourist.
One of the most prominent tourist attractions in the city of Buenos Aires is the former Spanish townhall known as Cabildo. The Cabildo is located across from the Plaza de Mayo and was erected in the early nineteenth century. Inside the Cabildo is a museum which has a small, but impressive display of religious artwork, relics and paintings by the artist Enrique Pellegrini. Visitors often stop here to see the changing of the guard.
The guard is named the Regimiento de Patricios and they still wear traditional uniforms that were designed over two hundred years ago. Another prominent, and popular attraction is the Casa Rosada. The Casa Rosada is the most famous balcony in the world. It is located at the Presidential Palace of Argentina and is very recognizable. It has been the location of many political rallies, especially during the regime of Juan and Eva Peron. The pink Presidential Palace is done in an Italian architectural style and has fountains and palm trees in front of it. The palace has a small museum located in it that displays presidential artifacts.
The Buenos Aires Zoo is another attraction that draws visitors from all over the world. This zoo features over three hundred and fifty animal species and is well known for the breeding of exotic animals. Inside the zoo visitors will find one hundred and seventy-five species of birds, fifty species of reptiles and ten species of mammals. Visitor interaction is encouraged by several feeding stations located at many of the popular exhibits. The Buenos Aires Zoo is a great place to bring the entire family and experience some rare and exotic animals.