Perhaps the most photographed building in Buenos Aires, the Casa Rosada is the main presence on the Plaza de Mayo. The Argentine president does not live here, contrary to what many tourists think, but she does work here. (She lives in a mansion in Los Olivos, a suburb north of the city.) It is from a balcony of the north wing of this building that Eva Perón addressed adoring crowds. Hoping for star-quality glamour, former President Carlos Ménem allowed Madonna to use it for the 1996 movie Evita, to the shock of many Porteños. Most Argentines, however, associate the balcony with the announcement of military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri's ill-fated war in 1982 against the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands, known here as the Islas Malvinas. Girl power aside, the color pink has nothing to do with the female president. Two theories explain the color. One is political: At the time of its construction in the late 1800s, two warring parties, one represented by the color red, the other by white, are said to have created a truce by painting the building a color combining both shades. The other, rather revolting theory is more practical: In days past, the building was painted with cow blood that later dried in the sun to a deep pink color. At night, hot pink floodlights now also illuminate the building.
You can watch the changing of the guard in front of the palace every hour on the hour. In the back of the building, you'll find the Presidential Museum, with information on the history of the building and items owned by various presidents over the centuries. Portions of the museum extend underground into basements of former buildings, including a 2011 extension to house a mural by Mexican artist José David Alfaro Siqueiros. Make sure to step outside to look at excavations on the Customs house and port area, which existed along the Río de la Plata at this point until landfill projects pushed the shore farther east. The Casa Rosada is now also open to the public on weekends, with free tours on the hour Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm. If you're going on one, bring identification and expect to have personal items X-rayed to help ensure the security of the president. The tour will take you through ornate chambers, many overseen by marble busts of past presidents. You even get to stand on Evita's balcony and tell Argentina not to cry for you.