The Plaza de Mayo is the central square in Buenos Aires, Argentina ever since the May 25, 1810, Revolution for Argentine independence. It is not only the gathering place for many portenos (native residents of Buenos Aires) and tourists, but also a rallying point for political movements and activism. The deeply-rooted political events that have marked the Plaza de Mayo history inspire visitors to view the Plaza as not only the cultural center of the capital city, but also as the political center as well. Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, a group of mothers and other women who have protested the disappearance of their children during a reprehensible political dictatorship in Argentina between 1976 and 1983 gather here every single Thursday afternoon to reinforce their solidarity and support of the cause that, even after all of these long years, largely remains unresolved and in many ways, unaddressed.
Many of the most iconic and popular attraction in all of Argentina are located in the Plaza de Mayo. These include the Casa Rosada (the presidential palace), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the Equestrian Monument to General Manuel Belgrano, as well as the Cabildo (the old city council building). You will also find a huge array of restaurants, clubs, cafes, bars, tango parlors, bookstores, and much more in this area. It is, after all, the center of public life in downtown Buenos Aires and where many residents and tourists go during the week and on the weekends to enjoy meeting new people and having fun. Even though the history of the Plaza de Mayo has not always been pleasant, at least in modern times it has come to be known as a place of peace, happiness, entertainment, and tourism.
The history of Buenos Aires intertwines with the history of this plaza as well. Every Thursday, the Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo gather here in peaceful protest, hoping and searching to find out what happened to their missing children. Las Madres are known for wearing white head scarves upon which their children’s names are embroidered. It is difficult to conceive of the Plaza de Mayo history without factoring in the importance of this group of dedicated an unwaveringly committed women who simply want answers for what happened to their children during what has since become widely known as the Dirty War. This was a terrible time in the history of Argentina, when state-sponsored violence threatened the very way of life of everyone in the city. Over 10,000 people were taken and never heard from again, many of them killed. Thousands of children went missing, and difficult as it is to believe, many that were not killed were given to military families. To say that the Dirty War is a pock mark on the face of the Plaza de Mayo history, and the history of Argentina in general, is a sweeping understatement. Today, political tensions have long since eased, and the Plaza de Mayo is a place where people can once again gather together without fear of violence or torment.
Whether you come to this area of town to remember a tragic time in the country's history or whether you want to enjoy the many attractions in the general area, Plaza de Mayo is central and important and will likely factor into your time in the city in one way or another.