The columned neoclassical facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral makes it seem more like a temple than a church, and its history follows the pattern of many structures in the Plaza de Mayo area. The first of six buildings on this site was a 16th-century adobe ranch house; the current structure dates from 1822, but has been added to several times.
There's been a surge of interest in it since February 2013, when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, then archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected Pope Francis. The sanctuary now includes a small commemorative display of the pope's personal objects, watched over by a grinning life-sized fiberglass statue of the pontiff in full regalia.
The embalmed remains of another local hero, General José de San Martín—known as the Liberator of Argentina for his role in the War of Independence—rest here in a marble mausoleum lighted by an eternal flame. Soldiers of the Grenadier Regiment, an elite troop created and trained by San Martín in 1811, permanently guard the tomb. Guided tours (in Spanish) of the mausoleum and crypt leave Monday to Saturday at 11:45 am.