For better or worse, the presidential palace has been the site of contentious spectacle, the place where Perón and Evita summoned the cheering masses who later jeered the ruthless dictatorship after the 1982 Falklands War.
In late 2001 it witnessed the shooting of demonstrators by federal police under the inept De la Rúa administration. The building owes its pinkish hue to President Domingo F. Sarmiento, who proposed blending Federalist red and Unitarist white to symbolize reconciliation between the two violently opposed factions of 19th-century politics.
The Casa Rosada was not originally a single building; in 1884 Italian architect Francesco Tamburini merged the original government house with the former post office to create the present asymmetrical structure. On the east side, facing Parque Colón, pedestrians can view the excavated ruins of the colonial Fuerte Viejo (fortress) and early customs headquarters (buried beneath landfill in the 1890s).
Entered from the south side, the basement’s Museo de la Casa de Gobierno contains memorabilia from Argentine presidents, but unfortunately its charter prohibits material more recent than 30 years ago (and does not even require it to be that timely). Visitors can, however, stroll among the colonial catacombs visible from outside.
The Museo de la Casa de Gobierno (Hipólito Yrigoyen 219, tel. 011/4344-3804, www.museo.gov.ar , free) is normally open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays, 2–6 p.m. Sunday, but as of press time it was undergoing a major reorganization.
Free guided Casa Rosada tours take place 10 a.m.–6 p.m. weekends and holidays, at the main entrance (Balcarce 50) facing Plaza de Mayo.