On May 25, 1810, locals gathered in the Plaza de Mayo to demand the withdrawal of the viceroy and to form the Primera Junta – the first move in throwing off the yoke of Spanish rule and creating an independent nation.
The centenary in 1910 was cause for great celebration: in its first hundred years Argentina had gone from being a fairly small colonial backwater to one of the world’s richest countries, still in the throes of an unprecedented immigration and building boom, and bursting with confidence that it was destined to be a great country, perhaps even challenging US hegemony in the western hemisphere. Several foreign nations gifted monuments, many of which are still standing in Buenos Aires, including the Torre Monumental (Britain) and the Monumento de los Españoles (Spain).
Argentina has failed to live up to its original heady promise, but in 2010 its citizens nonetheless passionately celebrated their two-hundredth birthday. In Buenos Aires, lasting legacies of the party include a new museum, behind the Casa Rosada, and the Casa del Bicentenario, at Riobamba 983 (t011 4129 2400, wbicentenario.gov.ar), which holds exhibitions on different aspects of Argentine identity. The huge main post office, the Correo Central, at Sarmiento 189, near the beginning of Avenida Corrientes, is slowly being restored and transformed into a cultural centre. It is to be the seat of the national symphony orchestra and host more exhibitions – and might just be ready in time for the next bicentenary, that of the declaration of independence: July 9, 2016.