La Manzana de Las Luces
La Manzana de Las Luces
4
Historic SitesPoints of Interest & LandmarksHistoric Walking Areas
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Dr. Erick J. Mann, PhD
By Dr. Erick J. Mann, PhD
The Illuminated Block
5.0 of 5 bubblesJun 2019
Manzanas de las Luces The Society of Jesus arrived in the newly founded village of Buenos Ayres in 1608, establishing their first mission on a 2 hectare (5 acre) lot which had earlier been aside by Spanish conquistador Juan de Garay for the future town square. The Jesuits' 1661 sale of the property (which would ultimately become the Plaza de Mayo) and a gift of an adjacent lot by Isabel de Carvajal allowed the order to build a new, largely self-reliant mission. Work began in 1686 on the Saint Ignatius Church, a baroque structure completed in 1722, and the adjoining College of St. Ignatius was designed by local architect Juan Kraus and built between 1710 and 1729. Becoming the only academy in colonial Buenos Aires to provide a classical education, and the property possessed the city's finest laboratories, museum and library. The center housed the Office of the Advocate General of the Missions (which oversaw the order's numerous, lucrative Indian Reductions), as well as a pharmacy (the city's first) opened and operated by an English Jesuit, Father Thomas Falkner.[1] The 1767 suppression of the Society of Jesus led to the mission's closure, however, as well as an associated one housing a hospital, in the nearby San Telmo district. The academy was closed only temporarily, and was converted in 1772 into the Royal College of San Carlos. The temple was usurped and converted into a cathedral in 1775, though Father Falkner's pharmacy formed the basis for Viceroy Juan José de Vértiz's Medical Court of 1780 - the first school of medicine in what is today Argentina. Viceroy Vértiz also established the city's first printing press at the site, in 1780, as well as an orphanage funded by sales of the facility's printed material.[1] The center later had an anecdotal role in the Argentine War of Independence. The Regiment of Patricians was briefly headquartered in 1811 at the college, where the regiment staged a failed mutiny against their commander, General Manuel Belgrano. A network of five underground tunnels intersecting under the former mission (believed to have been built to guarantee the flow of supplies in the event of a siege, and to facilitate smuggling in peacetime) helped safeguard ammunitions during much of the war.The provisional government organized from the May Revolution of 1810, the First Assembly, opened a public library in 1812, and following the War of Independence, Governor Martín Rodríguez inaugurated the University of Buenos Aires and the General Archive, in 1821. A few days later, the city's leading newspaper, El Argos, described the area as the "Illuminated Block" in a September 1, 1821, editorial. Governor Rodríguez also established the Provincial Legislature and the Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires at the site, in 1822, as well as the city's first natural sciences museum (later housed in the nearby Santo Domingo convent). A secondary school established in 1817 in the Illuminated Block by Juan Martín de Pueyrredón eventually became the Buenos Aires National College, one of the nation's most prestigious university-preparatory schools, in 1863. The Provincial Legislature was used as the Argentine National Congress during the short-lived First Republic (1826–27), and was again used as such from 1862 to 1864, while newer facilities were built nearby. The Buenos Aires City Legislature also met at the site from 1894 to 1931, when its current building was completed. The old Provincial Legislature's final use was as the University of Buenos Aires School of Architecture (until 1972). The Illuminated Block was declared a National Historic Monument, in 1942, and was (with three of the catacombs) extensively restored, in 1983.

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Top ways to experience La Manzana de Las Luces and nearby attractions

The area
Neighborhood: El Centro (Downtown)
How to get there
  • Bolívar • 3 min walk
  • Perú • 4 min walk
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles529 reviews
Excellent
166
Very good
237
Average
93
Poor
24
Terrible
9

Dr. Erick J. Mann, PhD
Buenos Aires, Argentina878 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019
Manzanas de las Luces
The Society of Jesus arrived in the newly founded village of Buenos Ayres in 1608, establishing their first mission on a 2 hectare (5 acre) lot which had earlier been aside by Spanish conquistador Juan de Garay for the future town square. The Jesuits' 1661 sale of the property (which would ultimately become the Plaza de Mayo) and a gift of an adjacent lot by Isabel de Carvajal allowed the order to build a new, largely self-reliant mission. Work began in 1686 on the Saint Ignatius Church, a baroque structure completed in 1722, and the adjoining College of St. Ignatius was designed by local architect Juan Kraus and built between 1710 and 1729. Becoming the only academy in colonial Buenos Aires to provide a classical education, and the property possessed the city's finest laboratories, museum and library. The center housed the Office of the Advocate General of the Missions (which oversaw the order's numerous, lucrative Indian Reductions), as well as a pharmacy (the city's first) opened and operated by an English Jesuit, Father Thomas Falkner.[1]

The 1767 suppression of the Society of Jesus led to the mission's closure, however, as well as an associated one housing a hospital, in the nearby San Telmo district. The academy was closed only temporarily, and was converted in 1772 into the Royal College of San Carlos. The temple was usurped and converted into a cathedral in 1775, though Father Falkner's pharmacy formed the basis for Viceroy Juan José de Vértiz's Medical Court of 1780 - the first school of medicine in what is today Argentina.

Viceroy Vértiz also established the city's first printing press at the site, in 1780, as well as an orphanage funded by sales of the facility's printed material.[1]

The center later had an anecdotal role in the Argentine War of Independence. The Regiment of Patricians was briefly headquartered in 1811 at the college, where the regiment staged a failed mutiny against their commander, General Manuel Belgrano. A network of five underground tunnels intersecting under the former mission (believed to have been built to guarantee the flow of supplies in the event of a siege, and to facilitate smuggling in peacetime) helped safeguard ammunitions during much of the war.The provisional government organized from the May Revolution of 1810, the First Assembly, opened a public library in 1812, and following the War of Independence, Governor Martín Rodríguez inaugurated the University of Buenos Aires and the General Archive, in 1821. A few days later, the city's leading newspaper, El Argos, described the area as the "Illuminated Block" in a September 1, 1821, editorial.

Governor Rodríguez also established the Provincial Legislature and the Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires at the site, in 1822, as well as the city's first natural sciences museum (later housed in the nearby Santo Domingo convent). A secondary school established in 1817 in the Illuminated Block by Juan Martín de Pueyrredón eventually became the Buenos Aires National College, one of the nation's most prestigious university-preparatory schools, in 1863.

The Provincial Legislature was used as the Argentine National Congress during the short-lived First Republic (1826–27), and was again used as such from 1862 to 1864, while newer facilities were built nearby. The Buenos Aires City Legislature also met at the site from 1894 to 1931, when its current building was completed. The old Provincial Legislature's final use was as the University of Buenos Aires School of Architecture (until 1972).

The Illuminated Block was declared a National Historic Monument, in 1942, and was (with three of the catacombs) extensively restored, in 1983.
Written June 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nicholas M
Philadelphia, PA26 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2012 • Friends
Stumbled upon this spot in the rain while wandering around the Plz. de Mayo. There are a few shops inside a beautiful old building, a courtyard that was blasting classical music, a violin maker and then a great little restaurant called Veladad Virreinales. The restaurant had surprisingly delicious fresh ravioli, delicious coffee and a wonderful vibe... it may have helped that we were the only ones in there but our server was very nice, we even ended up sharing tongue twisters in our various languages (English, Spanish and Korean) Definitely worth popping your head in for a bit of history!
Written September 7, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Janine R
Melbourne, Australia50 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2019 • Solo
These are some of the oldest buildings in Buenos Aires, but restoration work is very slow. I gather that it was the intellectual hub of the city. There was no tour, and no English signage so I'm still not sure what I was looking at.
Written May 7, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jenniferdanks
Glasgow, UK3 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2018 • Friends
My 2 friends and I went on this tour wanting to see the tunnels. The tour guide did not inform anyone on the tour that the tunnels were closed prior to starting or we wouldn’t have continued. We were walked around a building that we could’ve entered for free, no English tour was offered therefore we were left confused for most of the tour, just wandering hoping soon we could enter the tunnels. We were lead to a church finally and at this point the guide informed the group the tunnels were closed and had been for several years for maintenance, everybody on the tour was visibly disappointed and I kid you not, the guide almost ran down the street after giving us the news about the tunnels as she clearly knew we’d all be annoyed at the clear scam. The tour was 75 pesos each, so not free either as advertised. Worst tour I’ve ever been on.
Written May 13, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

yaw_moves
Ottawa, Canada27 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2018 • Solo
I took this tour with friends I met at the hostel where I stayed. Three of us do not speak Spanish but one of us was from Argentina and offered to translate for us (the English tour was not possible on the day we were in town). The tour mainly consisted of walking around the outside of the building and into a church and the college. I suspect these are things one could do without the guide. I definitely don't recommend taking the Spanish tour without speaking the language. But even our Spanish-speaking friend found it boring. And to top it all off, they didn't take us into the tunnels because of some investigation that was taking place. Super disappointing since the tunnels were what we wanted to see. The guide didn't tell the group ahead of time that it would not be possible to enter....wouldn't have paid if we had known.
Written January 3, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ignacio P
Mels, Switzerland30 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2012 • Couples
We took the guided tour on the "Manazana de las Luces". As someone else already wrote, I was also expecting to get into the tunnels below the city of Buenos Aires. It seems, as the guide explained, that these aren't in good shape and that the visitors made them even worse by scratching the walls of the tunnels. So the tunnels aren't accessible anymore - too bad.

Still, this was a very interesting tour. We've learned a lot of history about Buenos Aires, including political history about the first governments in Argentina. We even sat at the very first parliament they had. The guide gave also a lot of interesting facts on how things were back then in the 1800's, which made the hole telling a bit more real - not just a plain history book thing.

We also got to see the entrance to the tunnels, from where you can see how the tunnels look like.

The guide was cool, but not in english. Since I speak spanish, I didn't look into it, but it may be worth asking if the have guided tours in english - otherwise, you won't get as much from the tour.
Written February 12, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tassaduq Hussain
Multan, Pakistan3,368 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2018 • Solo
Manzana de las Lucas (Historical Cultural Complex)
The "Manzana de las Luces" also called ‘block of enlightenment’ or ‘Apple of Lights’ is a Historical Cultural Complex located in downtown Buenos Aires near Bolivar Metro station. The complex has some of the city’s oldest buildings such as Baroque San Ignacio church built between 1686 and 1722. It is known as the birthplace of the city's intelligentsia and comprises of old historical buildings, mostly kept in original condition
Written September 29, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mirna G
Boston, MA78 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2017 • Solo
If you go without knowing much of the city's history, you might not enjoy it. Much of the original fabric of this part of the city has not been properly preserved and the curation of this historic space is choppy at best. You may enjoy a quick meal at the restaurant inside and check the mini antique stands. Most interesting would be to tour the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires that is a stunning piece of architecture and the old church. next door. The historic tunnels were closed.
Written July 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nelson L. Pirolo
Buenos Aires, Argentina605 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2016 • Couples
The place has been neglected for year, according to the Argentinian culture of not preserving the past. Vast parts of the building have dessapeared or demolished to make room for a parking lot. So sad.

The famous tunnels, are not open to visitors, just a quick glimpse from the where they begin.
Written April 16, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

orangerose5
West Palm Beach, FL35 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
I like history but this was not worth it in my opinion. Folks who don't understand Spanish should not even consider it. The history was not interesting at all. The tunnel visit was also boring.
Written December 21, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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