Argentina Travel Pictures

La Manzana de las Luces - Montserrat, Buenos Aires
Pictures & visitor info from a tour of La Manzana de las Luces (illuminated block) in Montserrat, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 
 
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One of the most interesting tours we took during our time in Buenos Aires was of La Manzana de las Luces or the "Illuminated Block" in the neighborhood of Montserrat.

The name of this area literally translates to "the apple of the lights". "Manzana" is an old Spanish word for a city block as well as for an apple.

"Luces" (lights) in the block's name refers to this area being the intellectual or enlightened center of the city of Buenos Aires.

The Jesuits constructed these buildings in the 1800's for the purpose of higher learning. Following their example, the first school of medicine was established here in 1780 and later the University of Buenos Aires.

To reach the Manzana de las Luces, head to Calle Peru 272. The block is bordered by Adolfo Alsina, Bolivar, and Moreno streets.

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On the tour, we were led around this five acre area of Montserrat while the guide explained the block's rich history.  Some of the buildings we saw included the San Ignacio church (the city's oldest), the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires (National High School of Buenos Aires), and the Universidad de Buenos Aires (University of Buenos Aires).
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Visitors are welcome to take self guided tours of La Manzana de las Luces on weekdays from 10 AM to 7PM and on weekends from 3 PM to 7 PM. Guided tours in English are usually given on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 PM and 4:30 PM. The cost is about $2 USD per person.

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By far, the best part of the tour was seeing the underground tunnels that were built by the Jesuits to connect their churches to other important parts of Buenos Aires. Nowadays, some of the tunnels are used by high schools to play hooky when they don't want to attend class.

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