Mendoza has suffered devastating earthquakes that have reduced the city to rubble. The earthquake of 1861 destroyed most of the city. Instead of repairing all the damage, the city decided to build a new city center southwest of the original location. They created a large principal plaza—Plaza Independencia—surrounded by four smaller plazas: Plaza San Martin; Plaza Chile; Plaza Italia; and the most picturesque, Plaza Espana. These open spaces created a safe retreat for residents to gather in the event of another destructive earthquake. On weekends the plazas come alive with artisan markets, food vendors, lip-locked lovers and families. Enjoy the people watching and be aware of your belongings.
Plaza de Las Artes
Every Sunday there is an artisan market on the east side of Plaza Independencia, Mendoza’s central plaza. Stroll the leafy walkway lined with stalls of art, leather goods, glass-blown trinkets, pottery, knitwear, wooden utensils and jewelry. Top picks are Marta Cuervo’s wooden earrings and pendants carved from native tree species and detailed with real silver, rose-colored Rodocrosita (Argentina’s national stone), blue Lapis mined from the Andes, and other multi-colored stones. Marcelo Pachu sells the nicest mates in the market, carved from caldén trees (native to the Argentine pampas) and beautifully designed alpaca “bombillas” or mate straws. Afternoon is the best time to go before artisans start packing up around 5:00 PM. Make sure you watch your wallet or it might not be there when you’re ready to pay.
Visit El Museo Municipal Arte Moderno
The Museo Municipal Arte Moderno is a gallery-sized museum tucked inside Mendoza’s main Plaza de Independencia. Recently one of Mendoza’s most famous modern artists, Jose Bermudez exhibited 90 works of art celebrating his 90th birthday. The museum also exhibits famous international artists like Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro. Free concerts and theatrical performances are usually held here on Sunday nights at 8pm.
Hop-On Hop-Off City Bus Tour
Mendoza’s hop-on hop-off tourist bus provides guided tours through the most important sites in Mendoza. Major destinations include: Plaza Independencia; Belgrano Avenue and the commercial and nightlife thoroughfare--Aristides; the historic Alameda; points of interest in General San Martin Park and the aquarium. Buses begin running at 9:00 AM and the last one leaves at 7:00pm. Tickets prices: $75 pesos for adults and $45 pesos for children with special pricing for students and senior citizens. You can purchase tickets at most tourism offices and tour agencies. +54 261 449-5185/6