Gral. José de San Martín is regarded as one of the fathers of Argentina and liberators of South America, having led the fight against the Spanish to gain the independence of Argentina, Chile, and Peru.
San Martín was born in Yapeyú and completed his military studies in Spain, where he fought against Napoleon. When he returned to Argentina he founded the Regimiento de Granaderos a Caballo and commanded the army in the north. He organized the army of Los Andes and arranged what seemed an impossible task: to cross the Cordilleras de Los Andes—one of the biggest mountain chains in the world with very hard conditions—into Chile and fight the Spanish army there. He then headed to Lima to declare the independence of Perú in 1821 and joined Simón Bolívar in the famous Interview of Guayaquil.
Later in his life, due to the political situation of the country, the Granaderos were disbanded and relocated to other forces. San Martín was forced to exile to France, where he died. Years later his body was taken back to Argentina and put to rest in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires in 1880. Only seven of the original Granaderos were still alive. They dressed in their old uniforms and decided to march to the port to receive their general’s body and escort him to his final resting place. They mounted guard the whole night and the following morning, they left and disappeared.
Some years later, the Regimiento de Granaderos was formed again. A group of seven Granaderos can be seen every morning marching from Casa Rosada (the presidential office) to the cathedral, and two of them remain on guard during the whole day in front of San Martín’s memorial.
The beautiful monument consists of three female figures, representing the countries that San Martín helped to liberate. Around the tomb lie the remains of two of his generals and good friends, Tomás Guido and Juan Las Heras, as well as the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Know Before You Go
The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral is open every day until quite late. But since it's located in the heart of the city and is very busy during the week, the best is to visit during the weekends.