Few know that Buenos Aires was once called Trinidad. It was a long, long time ago. On June 11th, this charming and magnificent city turned 431 years old.
Buenos Aires was founded twice (the first in 1536. Don Pedro de Mendoza, a Spanish colonizer, established the first settlement. He named it: City of the Holy Spirit and Port of Santa María del Buen Ayre. The second, and final, in 1580. Juan de Garay called the site City of Trinidad), but as a coquette woman, she picks the most recent date for celebration: June 11, 1580.
That day, Juan de Garay founded a fort at “high ground” just where today stands the Casa Rosada on the Plaza de Mayo. He reserved the name chosen by Pedro de Mendoza, “Santa María de los Buenos Aires” for the port. As a Christian, he looked for the name of the saint corresponding to May 29th, the day he first anchored off the mouth of the Riachuelo. So he named Trinidad the fort. Which was then a village. A village that turned into a town, and that now is a megacity.
Garay came, as Borges would later say, “from that river of mud and slumber”, Río de la Plata, there where the great Mesopotamian waters from Asuncion came together to leave for the ocean.
In front of the fort, he created the main square, and around it land was given to settlers and priests, which are still occupied by the Cathedral, the Cabildo, Buenos Aires’ Government House, the National Bank and the Ministry of Economy. Then, according to Spanish law, he divided the land into 250 blocks. From the line of the fort, the first four rows of blocks were divided into quarters. The rest of the city was given to those who had accompanied its establishment. This nucleus is limited by what is now Avenues Independencia and Córdoba, streets Salta and Liberta and the river. Barely downtown Buenos Aires today.
Buenos Aires celebrates its birthday splendidly, full of changes and proposals, without looking back. The historic center of Buenos Aires is renewed, but in visits or walks you can still see its history. There are places that jealously guard it: Zanjón de Granados, or Casa Mínima in San Telmo, or the City Cabildo. Or, with a little imagination, Lezama Park ravines, from where the river used to be seen. Or the river itself, still of mud and slumber, still carrying and bringing news.
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