(Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral at the begining of the XX century- photo courtesy of la hipatia)
The influx of cultures brought upon Buenos Aires by the strong migratory currents colored the city with a variety of religious practices and places of worship. At each of the churches and temples, communities of immigrants gathered to celebrate their beliefs in their own languages and songs, before altars built in the architectural style of each tradition. Religion was not only a place to worship God, but also, a place of congregation and belonging.
Now a days, as the descendants of the immigrants become distanced from their ancestral customs, many of the services are in Spanish. Nevertheless the style and cultural tradition is maintained, making for interesting places to visit and understand the history and multicultural background of the city.
Some temples worth visiting are:
Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral
This historic landmark was founded in 1580 as the first Catholic church of Buenos Aires. After undergoing various transformations due to the effects of time and the quality of building materials, it stands today overlooking Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada with a mix of architectural styles combining a Neo-Classic facade and Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque decoration. It is also where San Martin’s remains lie in a mausoleum guarded by statues that represent Argentina, Peru and Chile, the countries the General liberated.
Open Mon-Fri- 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun – 9 am- 7.30pm
Iglesia de San Ignacio
Close to the Cathedral is the San Ignacio church built in 1675 by the Jesuits. It is one of the oldest churches in Buenos Aires and is part of the Manzana de las Luces, a network of mysterious underground tunnels and buildings built in the XVII-XVIII centuries.
Tours in English of the tunnels and church are available on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons with prior booking. Tours in Spanish are available daily.
The church is also open to the public every day from 9am-8pm
Calle Bolivar Nº 225, Monserrat
The story tells that on one Yom Kippur in 1861, two Jewish men gathered at the Recoleta park to read their book of prayers and decided to summon a permanent minyán, that is a group of minimum ten Jewish men who together could ensure that God would hear their prayers. A year later the group was formed and they joined to celebrate Pesaj. This was to be the first version of the National Israeli Congregation.
In 1837 the founding rock was placed and following with a mix of Roman and Byzantine architectural styles, the first synagogue of the city finally found its place.
Now a days it can be visited as part of the tours offered by the Jewish Museum (which is right next door) from Tuesday to Thursday 3pm-6pm and Fridays 3pm-5pm.
*Due to religious festivities the Museum will remain closed on the 13th-14th-20th and 21st of October.
Libertad 769, Downtown
Russian Orthodox Church
This ornate church with eye-catching cupolas in XVIIth century Russian style, stands in San Telmo in front of Parque Lezama and the Historic National Museum.
Its structure includes five blue cupolas with golden stars crowned by orthodox crosses, which are fastened with chains that face east. Inside are two murals and elaborate symbolic icons amongst which the holy trinity stands out.
Open Saturdays 5pm-8pm and Sundays 10am-midday. The church also opens occasionally on weekdays. This week it will be open on Thursday from 9am-11am.
Brasil 315 – San Telmo
Danish Lutheran Church
Also in San Telmo is the Danish Lutheran Church, which was founded as an institution in 1924, and the neo-gothic style Temple in 1931. The congregation found a common cultural place in the Danish Church where to this day many Danish traditions are still celebrated. Additionally they have a library with extensive Scandinavian literature.
The city also offers religious tours that take you to different temples on the first and third Friday of every month starting at 10AM. Book your place at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or by phone: 4323-9410 / 4323-8000 int. 2855/2797