- For other places with the same name, see La Plata (disambiguation).
La Plata is the capital city of Buenos Aires Province. This planned city is recognized for its layout, a perfect square with the "Historic Axis" preserved intact until today; and for the outstanding design of the diagonals that cross it forming rhombuses within its contour, forests and squares placed exactly every six blocks.
It covers an area of 940.38 km² and it's at 9.87 m above the sea level. It is placed on the "pampa húmeda" (wet pampas), 56 km south-east of Buenos Aires city, at 34º 55' south latitude and 57º 17' west longitude.
La Plata was designed around a central axis marked by 51st and 53rd Avenues, where the main buildings and landmarks are located: the Cathedral, City Hall, Plaza Moreno (Moreno square), the Teatro Argentino, the Provincial Legislature and Government house around Plaza San Martín (San Martín square). It was designed by Pedro Benoit and his prestigious team, who are among the most distinguished in the world. His basic design was a perfect square, cut in half diagonally and with squares and parks in the intersections of avenues, grand tree-lined boulevards and a forest near the center of the city.
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Its weather is mild, with an annual average temperature of 16.3 °C and an average rainfall of 1023 mm per year. The average humidity is of 77.6% and the predominant southeast winds blow during four months in the year. Summers are hot and humid while winters are cool and cloudy.
La Plata was born because of a political motive: The urgency of giving a new capital to the province of Buenos Aires, after the battle of Caseros. It was discussed at the time the possibility of moving the capital of the Buenos Aires Province to some existing populations, but the idea of creating a new city, lying on the field as a vast mathematical network, prevailed over any other opinion. So while other cities began as small populated and poor villages, which they were slowly becoming cities, La Plata, however, was from the beginning like a city, and not in poverty if not in opulence. La Plata was born, once and for ever, in full adulthood without a past. It had fame even before existing. It would be the great city of the future, the perfect capital; it was the magical city coming from the heart of the desert. In 1882, the final plans of the city were approved, and the works began. Three month after the first streets began to pave. Finally the solemn day of its foundation came, it was on 19 November 1882. In the Moreno Square the cornerstone was laid, guests gathered under a large wooden shed, where the official banquet was served, while people gathered around 400 roasters where juicy steaks were cooked. The feast of meat was followed by racing of rings, acrobats and fireworks.
The party was over; the next day the construction works of the new capital began. The town developed, in its early years, with breakneck pace, growing in the abundance. There was work and money, so says the popular song: "I go to La Plata, the new capital, where much is gained, with little work". In a few months the final forms of the city began.
Buses from Retiro and other places in Buenos Aires leave all the time - they cost A$39 (September 2016) and take 1 hour or so. There are two companies that cover the route: Costera Metropolitana and Plaza. On business days the buses leave from the Retiro neighborhood, not the main Retiro bus station. On weekends and holidays, Costera's buses leave from the interior of the station (platforms 1 or 2). The Plaza bus' stop is across the street from the main bus station. There are a number of bus stops, look (or ask) for the 129 to La Plata "por autopista" (by the freeway). If you take the 129 to La Plata "por Centenario", it'll take twice as long as it makes local stops along the way.
Trains leave from Buenos Aires all day from Constitución station. Travel time for the full journey is just over one hour.
- 1 La Plata railway station (Estación La Plata) (Intersection of Calle 1 and 44, just north of downtown.).
La Plata is an easy city to navigate because of its numbered grid system. (However, many street signs are missing, which makes it more difficult to determine your location.) You can easily walk from one side of the city to another within 45 minutes. Taxis are plentiful and cheap. They can be hailed on the street, but be observant: the diagonal avenues that cut through La Plata can be confusing and taxi drivers might take advantage of that to rack up the price on the meter.
The city buses, or the micro, are very cheap and reliable. Within one city zone (the square-grid downtown counts as one zone) the bus costs AR$6.25 (Argentine pesos) as of September 2016. It will cost a little more to travel into the suburbs. You must specify the amount you are paying or your destination upon entering the bus. If you are confused as to how much you should pay, ask the bus driver. Buses only accept prepaid bus cards (called "Sube"), which you can buy at any news stand for AR$30. (If you don't have one, but you have the exact change, you can often ask a friendly fellow traveler to swipe their card for you and then pay them in cash.) You must also hail the bus as it approaches the bus stop or it will not stop. The Sube card is good throughout the greater Buenos Aires area (not the whole province, just the city and its immediate suburbs).
A local train-tram runs in a half-circle around the city, from the railway station via the University and the city's largest hospital to Los Hornos neighborhood.
- 1 Museum of La Plata (Museo de La Plata) (in the green parks north of the city centre), ☏ . Highlight of the city - contains numerous (some huge) dinosaur skeletons, a detailed exploration of the numerous pre-Columbian cultures in south America, and other world class exhibits. The museum isn't quite up there with its cousins in New York City or London - but it is not far off. AR$9.
- 2 Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Emilio Pettoruti, Av. 51 525 (near Plaza San Martin), ☏ . The provincial museum of fine arts has reopened after its refurbishment. Small exhibition space displaying temporary contemporary art exhibitions. Free.
- 3 Museum of Contemporary Latin American Art, ☏ .
- La Plata Gymnastic and Fencing Club Museum, Av. Iraola y 118 (Paseo del Bosque), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-13:00. The club was founded in 1887 in 7th Street between 46th and 47th as a Social and Sport Institution. It started in the disciplines of gymnastics and fencing. In 1912, the club added social activities: the practice of football, which allowed a great deal of solvency by winning the tournament of 1915 and obtaining the privilege of playing in Premier League. It continued adding other sports such as basketball, women's volleyball, athletics, gymnastics, fencing, boxing, rugby, water polo, swimming. All these sports had high performance representatives. The museum was founded to protect and preserve the history of the institution. It began with the task of recovering the elements which belonged to its heritage and restoring ancient armours and goods. It exhibits bronze medals and shields, cups and trophies, flags, guns of the Tire Section, swords, books, paintings, t-shirts, a photographic archive and a record of the members between 1894 and 1932.
- Casa Mariani Teruggi, 30th Street, 1134 (between 55th and 56th Street), ☏ . Sa 11:00-17:00. The city of La Plata was one of the hardest hit cities by the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. Thousands of young people belonging to different political and guerrilla groups were persecuted, tortured, killed or they just “disappeared”. Among the most painful events is what happened in the house on 30th Street between 55th and 56th Street, where Diana Teruggi and Daniel Mariani lived with their daughter Clara Anahí. From outside, the house seemed to be a place where the owners bred rabbits and prepared and sold them as marinade food. But indeed there was one of the most important secret printing houses belonging to the “Montoneros” Organization. On November 24, 1976, the house was attacked by a Commando of the Provincial Police and Military Force: five guerrillas were killed. Clara Anahí was 3 months old at that moment and she has never been found since then. Her grandmother is still looking for her. The house is in its original state. It's part of Argentine memory and history, and certainly worth a visit. Free.
- Dr Emilio Azzarini Thematic Museum, 45th Street (between 6th Street and 7th Avenue, only one block away from “Plaza Italia” (Italy Square)). M-Th 15:00-18:00. It is a private collection of musical instruments donated by Dr Emilio Azzarini, a genetic veterinarian, to the University of La Plata in 1963. There you can find important musical instruments from all over the world, all of them with their corresponding acquisition date. From Europe: an Italian Beriubai resonator, a whistle receptacle, an automatic Tiritaina, spherical bells, a clavichord, a Traversa flute, a lyre, a Pu-ti-pu, a Txistu, an oboe and an ocarina. From Asia: a dung-chen, a co-ling, a sanshin, a sheng-shofar, and a summara. From Oceania: a didjeridu and a kooanan. From the Americas: a berimbau, a phonograph, four whistle receptacles and a resonator guitar. There is also a library of 3600 books and scores and a “Book of the Museum of Musical Instruments” that was edited by the University of La Plata and the Italian Institute of Philosophical studies. A very important collection.
- The Cathedral, between 14 street and 15 street, and between 51 and 53 avenues (opposite Moreno Square). La Plata's Cathedral “Immaculate Conception” is the main catholic temple of the city, opened for the first time on 19 November 1932, for the official ceremonies commemorating the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of La Plata. It has a beautiful architecture; its floors are made of granite stone. It has wonderful stained glass windows, but the most valuable works are the wooden engravings, the work of Mallknecht brothers and Leo Moroder.
- 4 Curutchet House, Boulevard 53, 320. Curutchet House is a landmark to visit in La Plata. It is located in a green, sunny area with plenty of plants and trees facing the “Paseo del Bosque” park. It is one of the very few buildings in America designed by the famous architect Le Corbusier, and a world heritage site. He projected four levels with a ramp and a spiral staircase mainly because the piece of land where it was built was very narrow. Nowadays it houses the Buenos Aires Professional Association of Architects (Colegio de Arquitectos) and it is open to the public for tours and occasionally hosts events.
- Cemetery of La Plata, intersection of Avenue 31st, 72nd and Diagonal 74th (in the southern tip). Established in 1886 for the new capital, it was designed by Pedro Benoit, also responsible for the design of the city. It has some remarkable architectural features in its main entrance, as well as in many of the family vaults, which include neoclassical, neo-gothic, Art Nouveau (in its variant of Catalan Art Nouveau), Art Deco and Egyptian revival styles. The main entrance is a neo-classical portico with Doric columns. The Catholic chapel, in Romanesque revival style, was finished in 1950. Some famous people are buried at this cemetery, among them poet Pedro Bonifacio Palacios, naturalist Florentino Ameghino and writer Manuel Puig.
Public buildings walking tour
Starting on 1st Avenue, between 51st and 53rd Avenues, you can go on a walking tour along a strip of famous buildings. The first point is Rivadavia Square (Plaza Rivadavia) and opposite it is the important Police Department. Walking a bit further to the south-west you reach San Martin Square (Plaza San Martin). On 6th Street you can see the Government House and on 7th Avenue is the Parliament (Palacio Legislativo), the building where senators and deputies work.
The next destination is the “Argentino” theatre, built in a modern style. Right down the street you can find the Town Hall (Palacio Municipal), opposite Moreno Square, and on 14th Street, you can see and visit the Cathedral that was inspired by those in Cologne and Amiens. Many of these buildings were constructed in French style, and all of them date back to La Plata foundation in 1882.
- The Argentino Theatre: It is a lyric opera house and a cultural centre. It has two halls where ballet, opera and concerts are performed, and two magnificent foyers for art exhibitions. The new Argentino theatre was built on the same city block where the original building had been, which was destroyed by a fire. There are free guided tours.
- The Coliseo Podestá Theatre: It was built in an “art deco” style at the beginning of the 20th century. Its main hall is decorated in French style.You can see plays and comedies here and it is also a historic building to visit. The first theater of “honest fun” of La Plata was the Varietes Theatre, in Tolosa, in 1884. At the same time, other stages were created where companies of puppeteers and narrators made shows in La Plata Theater and Politeama 25 de Mayo Theatre, both of which were also in La Plata. In this last theater the character called “Pepino el 88” accompanied by his donkey “Pancho” made the audience amuse. José Juan “Pepe” Podestá was the person who gave life to the famous clown that would become the pioneer of the Río de La Plata’s theater. Four years after the foundation of La Plata, in 1886, the first theater whose size was suitable for large lyrical evenings was opened. This theater was called Politeama Olimpo. It is now called Coliseo Podestá. In that first show, the tenor Roberto Stagno interpreted The Barber of Sevilla. The building project was in charge of the Uruguayan architect Carlos Zenhdorf. It was entirely made with Argentinian materials. Its first owners were Vicente Jordán & Co. but in 1887 the circus company Scotti-Podestá bought the property at a public auction. Since then, two stories were intertwined, the one of the building on 10th Street between 47th and 48th and the one of the Podestá family who, since 1885, installed their circus tent in La Plata. The building had to be modified to work as a circus. The building occupied a quarter of a block and communicated with the café El Olimpo. On the first floor, there was a hotel for artists who came from abroad or from Buenos Aires. Because of its movable floor it could work as a theater or as a circus. Artists and animals entered from the sides of the stage, where the boxes are located nowadays. In 1920, the Politeama Olimpo was renamed "Coliseo Podestá" in honor of Pepe’s father. The Coliseo Podestá has a room with perfect acoustics. Great artists like Margarita Xirgu, Arthur Rubinstein and Lola Membrives have acted in it. In the 1920s, carnival and spring dances were held. Of course, they dismantled the seats and put tables and chairs so a great dance floor was formed. The orchestra was located on the stage or in the moat. After being inactive for some time, it was bought by the La Plata city hall in the year 1981.
Cultural centers (centros culturales)
- Dardo Rocha Cultural Centre: It is located on the square block bounded by 49 and 50 and 6 and 7 Streets, opposite San Martin Square. It is one of the most beautiful palaces in the city. It was built in an eclectic style, a mixture of French and Italian, and it was designed by the Italian architect Francisco Pinaroli. It was built as a European-style railway station, but in 1926 the railway station was relocated and the building became a cultural centre. Then it was home to various public offices until 1994 when the Municipality of La Plata took it over. Now it is again used as a cultural centre. On the ground floor there is a magnificent hall with elegant columns. It has beautiful floors and an impressive ceiling. Here, visitors can enjoy different activities such as shows, fairs, concerts and conferences. They can also visit the MUMART (Municipal Museum of Art), the MUGAFO (a photograph showroom) and the MACLA (Museum of Latin American Art). Also on the ground floor there is a pub where visitors can have lunch or a cup of coffee. On the first floor you can find the Municipal School of Art and the Auditorium
La Plata's well known reputation as the starting place for a number of indie-rock bands can be seen in some of the few pubs that the city has. On the weekends local bands gather in pubs to play (often for free). Most pub life starts at 02:00. Some of La Plata's rock bands that are now well known in the rest of Argentina started in these pubs.
In the past they were called “Librería de Viejo”, now, “Librería de Usados”. All these bookshops have the same layout. In the middle of the room there is a big, rectangular table with books on offer. And on the shelves against the walls, there are difficult to find books, old editions or luxurious bindings. You are not going to find there the latest books of publishing companies but books that have been sold by their owners because of trips, house moving, death, desire to renew, etc. As La Plata is a university city, philosophy, history or good literature books are easy to find and buy and also at a cheap price.
If you love books go to “Don Cipriano” (49th Street, 471) or “Libros Lenzi” (Diagonal 77th, 521)
- 1 Wilkenny, Calle 50 797 (intersection of Calle 11 and 50). Irish pub & restaurant.
- 2 Pura Vida, Diagonal 78. Has an alternative and Indie atmosphere where locals, musicians and artist hang out at night. Some of the "new wave" Indie-Rock bands (e.g. 107 Faunos, Los Reyes del Falsete) play for more than a convinient coverage. Concerts usually start very late (02:00).