Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Etymology

When the Aragonese conquered Cagliari, Sardinia from the Pisans in 1324, they established their headquarters on top of a hill that overlooked the city. The hill was known to them as Buen Ayre (or "Bonaria" in the local language), as it was free of the foul smell prevalent in the old city (the castle area), which is adjacent to swampland. During the siege of Cagliari, the Aragonese built a sanctuary to the Virgin Mary on top of the hill. In 1335, King Alfonso the Gentle donated the church to the Mercedarians, who built an abbey that stands to this day. In the years after that, a story circulated, claiming that a statue of the Virgin Mary was retrieved from the sea after it miraculously helped to calm a storm in the Mediterranean Sea. The statue was placed in the abbey. Spanish sailors, especially Andalusians, venerated this image and frequently invoked the "Fair Winds" to aid them in their navigation and prevent shipwrecks. A sanctuary to the Virgin of Buen Ayre would be later erected in Seville.

In the first foundation of Buenos Aires, Pedro de Mendoza called the city "Holy Mary of the Fair Winds", a name chosen by the chaplain of Mendoza's expedition, a devotee of the Virgin of Buen Ayre. Mendoza’s settlement soon came under attack by indigenous people, and was abandoned in 1541.

For many years, the name was attributed to Sancho del Campo, who is said to have exclaimed: How fair are the winds of this land!, as he arrived. But Eduardo Madero, in 1882, after conducting extensive research in Spanish archives would ultimately conclude that the name was closely linked with the devotion of the sailors to Our Lady of Buen Ayre.

A second (and permanent) settlement was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay, who sailed down the Paraná River from Asunción (now the capital of Paraguay). Garay preserved the name chosen by Mendoza, calling the city Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María del Buen Aire ("City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Winds"). The short form "Buenos Aires" became the common usage during the 17th century.

The usual abbreviation for Buenos Aires in Spanish is Bs.As. It is common among the large number of residents whose main language is English to speak of "B.A." or "BA" (bee-ay).


source: Wikipedia

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