Most travelers visiting Buenos Aires during their Argentina vacation spend their time occupied with the city’s enchanting atmosphere, rich culture and grand architecture. What lies beneath their feet might seem much less interesting.
But one of the city’s most fascinating – and little known – places is actually hidden deep underground in Buenos Aires’ colonial San Telmo district, and it is below the foundations of a 178 year old mansion that you’ll find one of the most unusual museums during your entire Argentina travel experience.
El Zanjon de Granados is a subterranean window into Buenos Aires’ long history, revealing how life in the city has changed since it was first established by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza in the 16th century.
A labyrinth of tunnels, passages and various rooms from which a range of artifacts have been recovered, El Zanjon (meaning “the hole” in English) contains a slave cell, a water cistern and various other remnants from a time when the ravine was inhabited.
Numerous colonial era antiques have been recovered, including African pipes, English china and French tiles, as well historic coins, ceramics, hair brushes and other items which are now on display in the museum.
The network was originally created by the city’s early residents but was built over and eventually forgotten to time while the city above grew and expanded. The building at ground level was converted into a luxury 23-room mansion in 1830 but had been abandoned by the 1970s and was being used as a dump by locals who had no idea of the treasures that lay underground.
Eventually the property was purchased by the current owner, Jorge Eckstein who has spent twenty years restoring the building and the historical network underground, turning it into a museum for the public.
During a one-hour guided tour, visitors to the restored-mansion can see the mansion’s guest rooms, the kitchen, three patios, an enormous reception hall, as well as the underground tunnels that are wonderfully maintained. A visit to El Zanjon is a must during your Argentina vacation and for any visitor interested in knowing a bit of the story of this city’s rich past.
Defensa 755, San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Tel: 4361- 3002
This guide to Buenos Aires was written by a travel-loving Argentina vacation expert at Argentina For Less, a member of the Latin America For Less family. Latin America For Less, a US travel agency established in 1998, offers a complete South America vacation vacation service to destinations across Latin America, including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia. The company is unique in its ability to offer a price match guarantee as well as the highest standards in quality and customer service. Fully customized itineraries coupled with personal and friendly service are the hallmarks of a Latin America For Less vacation.