Old Buildings with Young Backpackers in Córdoba - Day 465
We have arrived in the 2nd largest city of Argentina, #Córdoba, so in usual GrownupTraveller’s style, we found a free walking tour so that we can quickly get to know a bit of the city and decide what places we want to explore further.
What? Rain? We had just left our apartment and spits of rain was targeting us. And the umbrella was sitting on the table right by the door! Doh! Oh well, a bit of rain won’t hurt us. We arrived at San Martin Plaza named after José de San Martín, the national hero of Argentina and Peru, and one of the liberators of Spanish South America.
Our first historic building to see was the #CathedralofCórdoba. A stunning building, pale pink with a grand central dome and two smaller towers. We could see different architectural styles, and this is not surprising as it took nearly 200 years to complete! (It did collapse twice during this period). Local indigenous people mainly built the Cathedral, and interestingly the angel faces have their features rather than the traditional European characteristics.
By this time, the rain had thankfully stopped, and we stood outside the Memory Museum. When we were in Buenos Aires (See Day 438), we learnt about the mothers marching in solidarity wearing white headscarves. I didn’t realise that women who gave birth in captivity during the #DirtyWar (1976-1983) had their babies taken away. People born during this time can now have their DNA tested for free to see if they are one of the Stolen Babies
Our tour took us next to the #CabildoCórdoba, a former government building that took a mere 300 years to finish. It had an open courtyard in the middle and Tim was on top form, glibly saying that they still haven’t finished the roof. We popped our heads in a window that showed us the prison cells, just 1m high and 2m wide. Either the people of that time were very short, or the prison service was very callous. I reckon it was the 2nd one.
We walked along the streets and chatted to a number of the other travellers, all backpackers. It was lovely being with a young group, mainly from the UK, a couple from NZ and from Germany. We came across what looked like a nice entrance to the underground but was shut. It turns out that this leads to an area where the Jesuits would go and pray, away from the hustle and bustle of the city back in the early 1800s. When the Spanish got scared that the Jesuits were becoming too powerful, they turfed them out of the country. The deserted tunnel was turned into a crypt and eventually forgotten about, that is until 1989 when some workers laying underground telephone cable unearthed it. I do hope that it is open next week so we can learn more.
Just along from here, our young guide pointed out a strange building. It arose because of a dispute between two brothers about adjoining land when the Avenue Colón was being widened. The result was that just a thin piece of land was available for one of them. Undeterred the owner got this interesting building constructed in 1920 with a 20m beautiful façade and only 6m at its widest. Clever architecture.
A few more stops until we reached the Jesuit Church which only took 26 years to build. They take their time these builders in Cordoba! It has three entrances, one for the university staff and pupils, one for the locals and one for the “whites”. Inside it had a beautiful curved roof which was built of cedar, like a ship’s hull. The builder, Lemaire, was once a boat builder. Ah! What a great idea. My dream is to have a house with a curved roof one day – perhaps I will find a good boat builder to make me one. It was the Jesuits who founded the nearby university, and our guide shared that in Argentina, university education is free and covers a wide range of subjects. This sounds great, but the tradition here is that on the last day of exams, the student’s clothes are cut to shreds, even their hair may be cut, and they get covered in paint and paper – all in good humour apparently!
It was lunchtime when the tour ended, and our guide took 8 of us to a nearby restaurant. It was quite posh. The look of ours and the youngsters’ faces must have been a picture. Not our usual café establishment. We sat at a round table and had such a great laugh with them all; hearing lots of things going wrong, like putting all your valuables in a dry bag and going snorkelling. They get wet! Also the pros and cons of hostels and couch surfing…sounds more like disadvantages to us, we think we’ll stick to Airbnbs thank you.