Spanish colonizers named today’s capital of Argentina after the Sardinian shrine “Santa María del Buen Aire”. What did the Spaniards have to do with a shrine located on an Italian island.
On this day, the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, was founded. Today it is a metropolis of great significance and one of the largest cities in South America, but it began its history as a small settlement in a Spanish colony.
Anyone with a little knowledge of the Spanish language can assume that the name “Buenos Aires” has something to do with “good air”. There really is a certain connection between the two, but the history of the name “Buenos Aires” is not that simple. Namely, original name of this city was actually “Santa María del Buen Aire”, after the well-known Marian shrine near Cagliari, Sardinia.
How did the Spaniards in 16th century know about the Sardinian shrine? Well, the Mediterranean island of Sardinia was, at the time, in Spanish possession as a part of the lands ruled by the Kingdom of Aragon. The shrine above the Sardinian capital Cagliari was named “Santa María del Buen Aire” during the Middle Ages. It was either because the air there was good, away from the smells of swamps in the center of Cagliari, or because, on some occasions, the Blessed Virgin Mary helped some sailors with good winds.
Anyhow, the Spaniards named the city in Argentina according to that Marian shrine, and the name was later reduced to “Buenos Aires”. Interestingly, inhabitants of Buenos Aires are usually called “porteños” (people of the port) in Argentina, due to the great significance of Buenos Aires’s port in the development of the city and the whole of Argentina.