Spanish colonizers had a tradition of blessing each new conquest by assigning a patron saint from their Catholic tradition. In Buenos Aires, this event took place on the 20th of October of 1580. The story goes that Juan de Garay and the first members of the cabildo (the government of the viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata) gathered on this day to pick the patron saint. When San Martín de Tours was chosen randomly from a group of names pulled from a hat the neighbors objected because he had a French name so the procedure was carried out again. San Martin de Tours was randomly picked three times from the hat and so it was finally accepted as an act of God. Every 11th of November the patron saint of Buenos Aires is remembered.
This Sunday, at the Avenida de Mayo, there will be a special celebration to commemorate this historical figure. The event will feature a historic recreation of Colonial Buenos Aires and will include a screening about the history of San Martin de Tours, different parades and artistic events and a mass at the Buenos Aires cathedral starting at 4.30pm.
The ride begins at the Plaza de Mayo Station, at the A-Line subway that’s at the heart of the historical district, below the emblematic Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada. The picturesque wagons that date back to 1913 still preserve the wooden seating, dim lights and manually operated doors immediately taking both the locals and visitors to another time. The first stop on the historic path is the Peru Station, which was renovated to look like it did in the 1900´s and keeps its ticket booths as well as displaying evocative black and white pictures of the subways path, where once, each station had a different colored mural on its walls so that the illiterate would know when to get off. The Subway continues through Avenida de Mayo where the historical Casa de la Cultura and Traditional Cafes such as Tortoni and Los 36 Billares can be visited. It then crosses the 9 de Julio Avenue, after Avenida de Mayo station, riding into Rivadavia Avenue where you can find the Congress above Congreso station before passing though ghost stations Alberti and Pasco. These two stations were so close to each other that they were closed down in 1951 and it is rumored that when the lights go out it is possible to see passengers from those times still waiting for the train. Further down the line above Castro Barros Station is gorgeous teahouse Las Violetas, which dates back to 1884 and serves assorted platters of cakes and sandwiches. Finally, close to the Rio de Janeiro Station is Parque Centenario, a large park that was opened in 1910 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Argentine Independence. The subway then continues up to Primera Junta which was the original end of the circuit and through to the recently added Puan and Carabobo stations. A map of the Buenos Aires subway lines is available here.
Our tip: Avoid the subway during rush hours (8-9.30AM and 6-8PM) or as an old local expression says, you will be riding like a sardine in a can!