The town was founded as Pagos de Areco in 1730, during the construction of the Parish Saint Anthony of Padua in San Antonio de Areco, dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua.
Before being conquered by the Spanish, the region was populated by indigenous tribes such as the Mapuches, the Querandíes and the Pampas Indians. Under the weight of Spanish “civilization”, the tribes gradually disappeared, which led to the interbreeding between Indians, “conquistadors” and black slaves. This is how the emblematic Gaucho was born; a dark skinned, hot-blooded mestizo…
At the beginning of the 18th century, the main square, Ruiz de Arellano, served as a corral for the first Estancieros (farm owners) who had founded the town. These European settlers, sent by the king of Spain, had the objective to occupy the new territories of the Pampa and cultivate the land there.
Gradually, the town expanded around the colonial square, its rhythm set by the daily work of the gauchos and other villagers.
In 1857 the Martinez bridge was built, which is now known as Puente Viejo (Old Bridge). In the past, you had to pay a fee to cross the bridge: the first toll in Argentina was born! The bridge is located on the old Royal Road (Camino Real) which, before the independence of Argentina, connected Alto Peru (the present-day Peru and Bolivia) to Buenos Aires. It follows the original route plotted out by the carriages which traveled between North and South (Buenos Aires).
San Antonio de Areco has for centuries been home to the traditions and customs inspired by the Gauchos, but the town really started to embrace its fame following the publication, in 1926, of the famous novel Don Segundo Sombra, which follows the meeting between a Gaucho and an orphan in the Blanqueada, a typical pulperia of San Antonio de Areco.
Parish Saint Anthony of Padua & Ruiz de Arellano square.
The Argentine poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes, author of “Don Segundo Sombra”, won the National Prize of Literature for this book. Many historians and locals tell that the main character was inspired by the charismatic Segundo Ramírez, a gaucho of the town.
It is said that Segundo Ramirez lived and worked at the estancia of the Güiraldes family, he also worked at the Estancia La Fe, before finally moving to the township where he worked at Estancia La Lechuza. It was common to see him in the local bars or at the headquarters of conservative political circles which were located on Ruiz de Arellano square.
Segundo Ramirez, the gaucho who inspired Ricardo Guiraldes in his novel “Don Segundo Sombra”.
Over the centuries, the village has managed to preserve its heritage and identity, becoming one of the most visited historic places in the province of Buenos Aires.
In 1999, the National Commission for Museums, Monuments and Sites of the Ministry of Culture declared the following places of San Antonio de Areco as National Monuments: the Old Bridge, the Park Criollo & Ricardo Güiraldes Museum, the pulpería La Blanqueada, the church of St. Anthony of Padua, the town hall and the main house of the Estancia La Porteña.
On the 20th of January 2015, the Argentine Congress enacted Law No. 27.105 to distinguish San Antonio de Areco with the title of National Capital of Tradition!
The Old bridge, or “Puente Viejo”