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In the early 18th century in Buenos Aires, captain Fernando de Valdez e Inclán promised the Lady of the Pillar, Patroness of Zaragoza, that if his mother in Spain gets cured from her illness, he would donate a land for the construction of a church. Since this occurred, he ceded the highest area of a farm inherited by his wife, to Juan de Narbona, who in turn donated the funds to construct a monastery for the Recoletos Descalzos (Franciscan barefoot friars).
The first monastery and church were erected between 1715 and 1718 on this site, which at that time was located beyond the city's borders. The larger building was done based on the plans of the Jesuit architects Bianqui and Prímoli, and inaugurated on 12 October 1732. After the expulsion of the monks in 1822, due to a general ecclesiastical reform, the church remained closed for several years, until it became the church of the parish del Pilar in November 1829. Up from 1834, the monastery was used as beggar's asylum and later home for the elderly.
In 1936, the Church Nuestra Señora del Pilar was elevated to a minor basilica by Pope Pío XI and, in 1942, the whole architectural ensemble was declared National Historical Monument.
The so called Claustros Históricos, a group of lateral galleries whose original use is not clear, were opened to the public as a museum of Colonial and religious art in 1997. On three levels are on display paintings, sculptures, images, silverwork, books, furniture, liturgical vestments, etc. from the 14th to 19th century. From the upper level there is an excellent view of the neighbor Recoleta Cemetery.
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