Last Updated on September 15, 2023
Argentina, a land of captivating landscapes and vibrant culture, also boasts a rich and diverse historical heritage. From ancient indigenous civilizations to the colonial period, and from the struggles for independence to modern-day heritage, Argentina’s historical sites offer a fascinating journey through time.
In this article, discover some of the best historical sites in Argentina that you must visit, each with its own unique story to tell. Discover the remnants of ancient indigenous cultures in the rugged landscapes of the Andes, walk the cobbled streets of colonial towns frozen in time, and stand on the battlegrounds where Argentina fought for its independence.
From the rugged terrain of Patagonia to the vibrant northern provinces, Argentina’s historical sites offer a glimpse into the nation’s past, a past intertwined with Indigenous peoples, European settlers, and the fervor of independence. Join us as we uncover the historical gems that make Argentina a treasure trove of heritage and history.
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This article at a glance:
- La Casa Rosada (The Pink House), Buenos Aires: This iconic building serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Argentina. It’s a symbol of political history and has witnessed many important events in the country’s history.
- Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires: While primarily known as a world-class opera house, Teatro Colón is also a historical gem. Its architecture and history make it a must-visit for culture enthusiasts.
- San Ignacio Mini Jesuit Ruins, Misiones: These well-preserved ruins are a testament to the Jesuit missions in the region during the 17th and 18th centuries. They offer insight into the history of indigenous communities and European colonization.
- Cafayate, Salta: This charming mountain town in the northwest of Argentina is known for its colonial architecture and vineyards. You can explore historical wineries and enjoy the region’s rich wine-making history.
- Tierra del Fuego National Park, Tierra del Fuego: This park holds historical importance as it was the site of early indigenous settlements. It’s also home to the End of the World Train, a historic railway.
- La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires: This cemetery is not only a final resting place for many notable Argentines but also a historical and architectural treasure. The mausoleums and sculptures here are a testament to the country’s history.
- Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires: This central square is historically significant as the site of many important political events and protests in Argentina’s history, including the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo’s demonstrations.
- Welsh Regional Historical Museum, Gaiman: Explore the history of the Welsh settlement in Patagonia at this museum. It sheds light on the cultural contributions of the Welsh community in Argentina.
- The Cathedral of Córdoba: Dating back to the 16th century, this cathedral is one of the oldest in Argentina. Its architecture and artwork hold historical significance in the city’s development.
- Puente del Inca, Mendoza: This natural rock formation, often referred to as the “Inca’s Bridge,” was historically used by indigenous people and later by the Incas. It’s a unique geological site.
- Pucará de Tilcara, Jujuy: This pre-Incan archaeological site consists of ancient fortifications and ruins. It offers insights into the indigenous history of the region.
- Cueva de las Manos, Santa Cruz: This cave is famous for its ancient handprints and rock art created by indigenous peoples over 9,000 years ago, providing a glimpse into their cultural history.
- Qhapaq Ñan: Known as the Inca Road System, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches across several South American countries, including Argentina. It’s a symbol of ancient transportation and trade routes.
- Moisés Ville, Santa Fe: Founded by Jewish immigrants in the 19th century, this town is historically significant for its role in Jewish settlement in Argentina.
- Tigre, Buenos Aires: Tigre is known for its historical rowing clubs, old fruit markets, and the Parque de la Costa amusement park. It’s a fascinating mix of history and modern attractions.
- Archaeological Reserve Menhires, Tucumán: See a collection of megalithic stone monoliths erected by pre-Columbian indigenous people centuries ago.
La Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires
One of the top historical sites in Argentina, La Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires is a great place to visit for anyone interested in exploring the country’s political and historical heritage.
Located in the heart of Buenos Aires, specifically at the eastern end of the Plaza de Mayo, La Casa Rosada, often referred to simply as “The Pink House” due to its distinctive pink color, is the official residence and workplace of the President of Argentina.
Its history is deeply intertwined with the nation’s political development, and it has been the backdrop for numerous pivotal moments in Argentine history.
While the presidential residence itself is not typically open to the public, you can visit the nearby “Museo del Bicentenario” also known as the Museo de la Casa Rosada. The museum features exhibitions that highlight Argentina’s history with artifacts and artwork in a former customs house and fort. There are guided tours available that provide insights into the country’s political evolution.
The building’s neoclassical architectural style is impressive. You’ll notice its grand facades, ornate balconies, and the iconic central balcony where political leaders have addressed the nation.
Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires
Located in the heart of Buenos Aires, near the famous Avenida 9 de Julio, Teatro Colón is one of the most renowned opera houses in the world. It has a rich history dating back to its opening in 1908. The theater has hosted countless opera performances, ballets, concerts, and other cultural events, making it a cultural centerpiece of Argentina.
The architecture of the building is a marvel in itself. It features a mix of Neoclassical and French-style architecture, with ornate decorations, a grand lobby, and a stunning main hall. The auditorium is adorned with lavish details and a world-class acoustics system.
Teatro Colón offers guided tours for visitors, providing insights into the theater’s history, architecture, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of its operations. The tours are informative and allow you to explore the building’s grandeur.
If your visit aligns with a performance, consider attending a show at Teatro Colón. It’s an opportunity to experience world-class acoustics and enjoy a cultural performance in a historic setting.
San Ignacio Mini Jesuit Ruins, Misiones
Exploring the San Ignacio Mini Ruins in Misiones, Argentina, offers a fascinating journey into the history of the Jesuit missions in South America.
San Ignacio Mini is one of the best-preserved Jesuit missions in Argentina and a must-visit historical site. These missions were established by Jesuit missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries as part of their efforts to convert indigenous populations to Christianity while providing education and self-sufficiency.
The Jesuit missions in Argentina, including San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto, and Santa Maria Mayor, have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are recognized for their cultural and historical importance, showcasing the fusion of European and indigenous cultures.
The ruins consist of impressive stone structures that include a church, residential buildings, workshops, and courtyards. The architecture reflects a blend of European Baroque and indigenous Guaraní styles.
To enhance your visit, there’s an on-site museum and interpretive center. These provide context about the history of the missions, the Guaraní people, and the Jesuit missionaries who lived here.
Guided tours are available at the site, often led by knowledgeable guides who can provide detailed historical insights. It’s recommended to take a guided tour to fully appreciate the significance of the ruins.
Located in the Calchaquí Valleys in the northwestern province of Salta, the historic town of Cafayate offers a delightful experience that combines natural beauty, cultural heritage, and culinary delights. It’s one of the best towns to visit in Argentina and a great place to chill for a few days.
Cafayate has a rich history, with colonial architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. The main square, Plaza 20 de Febrero, is surrounded by historic buildings, including the town’s cathedral. The town was founded in 1840 by Manuel Fernando de Aramburu, at the site of a mission.
Apart from strolling around the historic district, Cafayate is a great place to go hiking and exploring the unique landscape of the area, go wine tasting at a nearby winery, shop for local crafts, or attend a cultural event.
Tierra del Fuego National Park, Tierra del Fuego
While Tierra del Fuego National Park is primarily known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities, there are also some historical sites and points of interest that you can explore in the region. Such as:
- Lapataia Bay (Bahía Lapataia): While primarily known for its natural beauty, Lapataia Bay is also historically significant. It’s often considered the symbolic end of the Pan-American Highway, a renowned road that stretches from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
- Prison of Ushuaia: Located in the nearby city of Ushuaia, this historic prison is now a museum. It offers a glimpse into the region’s penal history and the conditions experienced by early inmates.
- End of the World Museum (Museo del Fin del Mundo): Also situated in Ushuaia, this museum focuses on the history of Tierra del Fuego, including its indigenous cultures and the exploration of the region by early European sailors.
- Estancia Harberton: Although not within the national park itself, Estancia Harberton is a historic sheep farm and research center located nearby. It’s one of the oldest estancias in Tierra del Fuego and offers guided tours that shed light on the region’s history.
- Cabo San Pablo: This remote location on the eastern coast of Tierra del Fuego features a historic shipwreck from the early 20th century. It’s a stark reminder of the treacherous waters in this region and the challenges faced by early explorers.
While the primary draw of Tierra del Fuego National Park is its natural beauty and outdoor activities, these historical sites and museums in the surrounding areas provide additional insights into the history and culture of this remote and fascinating region.
Another significant historical attraction of the region is the “End of the World Train” or “Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino.”
The End of the World Train has a fascinating history dating back to the late 19th century. It was originally built as a narrow-gauge railway to transport timber from the forests to Ushuaia, which was then a penal colony. The construction of the railway was arduous, and it played a crucial role in the region’s development.
The railway’s route takes you through the picturesque landscapes of Tierra del Fuego National Park. It covers about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of scenic terrain, including forests, rivers, and peat bogs.
One of the unique aspects of the railway is that it still operates with authentic steam locomotives. The sight and sound of these historic engines add to the immersive experience.
During the train ride, you’ll typically have a guide or narrator on board who provides insights into the history of the railway, the park, and the indigenous people who once inhabited the area.
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires
La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is not only a cemetery but also a significant historical and cultural site with a unique blend of architectural beauty and historical importance. It’s one of the most significant historical sites in Argentina.
La Recoleta Cemetery is renowned for its stunning architecture, with elaborate mausoleums, sculptures, and tombstones. The cemetery’s design draws inspiration from European styles, particularly French and Italian influences, reflecting the cultural aspirations of the Argentine elite during the 19th century.
Many notable figures from Argentine history, politics, literature, and the arts have been laid to rest in La Recoleta Cemetery. This includes former presidents, military leaders, writers, and even Eva Perón (Evita), whose tomb is one of the most visited in the cemetery.
Beyond its role as a burial place, La Recoleta Cemetery is a cultural heritage site. Its sculptures, statues, and funerary art provide insights into the artistic trends and styles of the times in which they were created.
The cemetery’s history mirrors the historical evolution of Buenos Aires itself. As the city grew and evolved, so did the cemetery, reflecting different architectural and cultural influences.
The cemetery attracts visitors from around the world who come to appreciate its unique beauty and historical significance. Make sure to take a guided tour that delves into the history and stories of those buried there.
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires holds immense historical importance as it has been the central stage for countless pivotal moments in the nation’s history. This iconic square, located in the heart of Buenos Aires, has played a central role in Argentina’s political, social, and cultural development.
It was originally established in the 16th century during the Spanish colonial period. It was initially used for military exercises and later evolved into a gathering place for various civic and cultural events.
Perhaps its most crucial historical moment was during the Argentine War of Independence in the early 19th century. On May 25, 1810, a pivotal event known as the May Revolution took place in the square. This marked the beginning of the Argentine struggle for independence from Spanish colonial rule.
Plaza de Mayo was also the site where the Argentine Declaration of Independence was formally adopted on July 9, 1816. This declaration established Argentina as an independent nation.
Throughout the years, Plaza de Mayo has been the epicenter of numerous protests, demonstrations, and social movements. Perhaps the most iconic and enduring of these is the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of mothers and grandmothers who protested the disappearance of their children during Argentina’s military dictatorship in the late 20th century.
The square has witnessed various political events and speeches by Argentine presidents and leaders. It is often used as a gathering place for significant political announcements, celebrations, and commemorations.
The square is surrounded by important architectural landmarks, including the Casa Rosada (the Pink House), which serves as the presidential office and residence. The square’s architecture and the surrounding government buildings reflect the city’s historical development.
Welsh Regional Historical Museum, Gaiman
The Welsh Regional Historical Museum in Gaiman, Argentina, is a unique institution that plays a crucial role in preserving and showcasing the history and cultural heritage of the Welsh community that settled in Patagonia.
The Welsh community in Patagonia, particularly in the Chubut Province where Gaiman is located, has a remarkable history. In the late 19th century, a group of Welsh settlers embarked on a journey to establish a new life in this remote region of Argentina, seeking religious and cultural freedom.
The Welsh Regional Historical Museum is dedicated to preserving the cultural and historical legacy of the Welsh settlers and their descendants in Patagonia. It acts as a custodian of their stories, traditions, and artifacts.
Within the museum, you can find a wide range of exhibits and displays that offer insights into the daily life, struggles, achievements, and cultural practices of the Welsh community in Patagonia.
Gaiman, where the museum is located, is known for its Welsh tea houses and cultural events.
Visiting one of these historic tea houses, such as Casa de Te or Ty Gwyn, offers a glimpse into the culinary and cultural traditions of the Welsh settlers. Enjoy a traditional tea service with Welsh cakes and learn about the history of tea in Patagonia.
Take a walk through Gaiman’s streets to admire the historic architecture and traditional churches. Many of the houses and buildings in the town reflect the Welsh architectural influence – don’t miss touring Gaiman’s first house (Primera Casa de Gaiman).
Cathedral of Córdoba
The Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the “Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption,” is a historic and iconic religious landmark located in the city of Córdoba, Argentina.
The Cathedral of Córdoba dates back to the 16th century, making it one of the oldest churches in Argentina. It was constructed during the Spanish colonial period when the region was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
The cathedral’s architecture is a blend of several styles, including Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical elements. It features a harmonious combination of architectural details and is a remarkable example of colonial religious architecture.
The Cathedral of Córdoba is part of the Historic Quarter of Córdoba, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are plenty of other historic sites to visit in the city, such as:
- Jesuit Estancias: Explore the Jesuit estancias, such as Estancia de Caroya and Estancia Santa Catalina, which showcase the architectural and cultural legacy of the Jesuits in the region.
- Manzana Jesuítica: A complex of historic buildings that includes the cathedral, the Jesuit church, the Colegio Nacional de Monserrat, and the former Jesuit residence. These buildings offer a glimpse into the city’s colonial past.
- Capilla Doméstica: A small but historically significant chapel. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the city and reflects the early religious life of Córdoba.
- Museo Emilio Caraffa: Showcases modern and contemporary art. It’s housed in a historic building and offers a blend of art and history.
You can also visit the nearby town of Alta Gracia where you can visit the Casa de la Libertad, Casa Museo de Manuel de Falla, and Che Guevara’s Childhood Home to learn more about the region’s history.
Puente del Inca, Mendoza
Puente del Inca, located in the Mendoza Province of Argentina, is a natural wonder and historic site known for its stunning geological formation and cultural significance.
Puente del Inca, which translates to “Inca’s Bridge,” is a natural rock bridge that spans the Vacas River. The bridge was formed by mineral-rich hot springs, which created unique rock formations over thousands of years.
The natural bridge has a rich history and was once a place of significance for the Inca Empire. The Incas believed that it held religious and healing properties due to the hot springs. Pilgrims and travelers visited the site for its purported therapeutic benefits.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a thermal spa and hotel were constructed near Puente del Inca to cater to tourists seeking the healing properties of the hot springs. However, a natural disaster in 1965 caused the thermal spa and part of the hotel to be buried under a landslide, and the site was subsequently abandoned.
Today, you can still see the remnants of the abandoned thermal spa and hotel, which stand as historical ruins.
Puente del Inca is easily accessible by road, and it’s a popular stop for travelers exploring the Andes Mountains and the nearby Aconcagua Provincial Park, home to the highest peak in the Americas, Mount Aconcagua.
Some other historic sites in the area include:
- Las Cuevas: This small town, located at a higher elevation in the Andes, served as an important checkpoint for travelers crossing the Andes between Argentina and Chile. It has historic customs buildings and beautiful mountain scenery.
- Los Penitentes Ski Resort: This ski resort, located not far from Puente del Inca, is named after its rock formations that resemble praying penitents. While known for winter sports, the area also has hiking trails and a history tied to the construction of the Transandine Railway.
- Uspallata: This charming town in the Uspallata Valley is steeped in history. It was a significant stop for travelers on the Royal Road during colonial times. Uspallata also played a role in the construction of the Transandine Railway, and you can visit historic train stations and the Puente Histórico (Historic Bridge).
- Mendoza City: The provincial capital, Mendoza City, has a rich history with many historic sites. Explore the city’s colonial architecture, visit museums like the Museo del Área Fundacional, and walk around the Plaza Independencia, which features monuments and a historical park.
- San Rafael: While a bit further from Puente del Inca, the town of San Rafael has historical attractions such as the Museum of San Rafael and the Villa 25 de Mayo, an old settlement with colonial-era buildings.
- Potrerillos: This picturesque area near Mendoza City is known for its reservoir and the Embalse de Potrerillos Dam. It’s a serene place with a history linked to the construction of the dam and its impact on the region.
- Punta de Vacas: This location, close to Puente del Inca, was a base for early explorers, including those attempting to summit Mount Aconcagua. There’s a historical marker here that commemorates some of these expeditions.
Pucará de Tilcara, Jujuy
Pucará de Tilcara is one of the best historical sites in Argentina. Located in the province of Jujuy, it holds significant cultural and historical importance as an ancient pre-Inca fortress and settlement.
Pucará de Tilcara dates back to pre-Inca times, with its origins estimated to be around the 11th century. It was constructed by the Tilcara people, a pre-Inca civilization that inhabited the area.
It was designed as a fortified settlement, strategically located on a hill overlooking the Quebrada de Humahuaca valley. Its layout includes defensive walls, watchtowers, and various structures used for both residential and ceremonial purposes.
The site offers valuable insights into the culture, architecture, and way of life of the Tilcara people. It reflects their agricultural practices, social organization, and religious beliefs. Over the years, extensive archaeological excavations have taken place at Pucará de Tilcara, unearthing artifacts, pottery, and structures that shed light on the history of the region.
Visitors to Pucará de Tilcara can explore its well-preserved ruins, which include a central plaza, rooms for housing, ceremonial spaces, and defensive walls made of stone.
The nearby city of Salta is home to the Museo Arqueológico de Alta Montaña (High Mountain Archaeology Museum), which houses the famous “Llullaillaco Children,” three Inca child mummies discovered atop the Llullaillaco volcano. The museum offers insights into the history and culture of the Inca civilization and its influence on the region.
Cueva de las Manos, Santa Cruz
Cueva de las Manos, located in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina, is a remarkable archaeological site renowned for its ancient rock art and a must-see historical site in Argentina. This site is of immense historical and cultural significance.
Cueva de las Manos, which translates to “Cave of Hands,” is famous for its stunning rock art, primarily featuring handprints. The handprints were created by indigenous people using a stencil technique, where pigments were blown or sprayed over hands pressed against the rock surface.
The rock art at Cueva de las Manos is estimated to be over 9,000 years old, dating back to the prehistoric era. It is considered one of the most important and well-preserved examples of ancient rock art in the Americas.
The handprints, as well as depictions of animals, hunting scenes, and geometric patterns, provide insights into the beliefs, customs, and way of life of the indigenous people who once inhabited the region. Some of the art is associated with the ancestors of the Tehuelche people.
Visitors typically explore Cueva de las Manos on guided tours led by knowledgeable guides who provide historical and cultural context to the rock art. The site’s isolation and delicate nature necessitate controlled access.
While reaching Cueva de las Manos can be a journey, the experience of seeing this ancient rock art in its natural setting is well worth the effort. The site is remote and requires travel on unpaved roads, but it offers a unique glimpse into Argentina’s indigenous history. You can either drive there or book a tour from Perito Moreno.
The Qhapaq Ñan, also spelled as Qhapaq Ñan or Capac Ñan, is an ancient network of roads and trails that once spanned across various regions of South America. It is one of the most extensive and significant road systems in the world, with historical and cultural importance.
The Qhapaq Ñan was primarily built and expanded during the Inca Empire, which thrived from the 15th century until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The road system was used for transportation, communication, and the movement of people and goods within the empire.
It covered a vast territory, stretching for approximately 30,000 kilometers (18,600 miles) across modern-day Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It traversed a variety of landscapes, including mountains, deserts, and coastal regions.
In recognition of its historical and cultural significance, the Qhapaq Ñan was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. It is recognized as an exceptional example of engineering, technology, and organization by the indigenous peoples of the Andes.
The Qhapaq Ñan was meticulously constructed using a combination of cut-stone pathways, suspension bridges, tunnels, and staircases. These engineering feats were adapted to the challenging terrain and served as a testament to Inca engineering and organizational skills.
Visitors can explore portions of the Qhapaq Ñan in different countries, with some sections open to trekkers and hikers. Here are some notable sections that can be hiked in Argentina:
- Salta to Jujuy: The northern provinces of Salta and Jujuy offer access to well-preserved sections of the Qhapaq Ñan. Hikers can explore trails that pass through picturesque landscapes, including high-altitude puna, valleys, and archaeological sites.
- Villa Unión to Londres: In the northwestern province of La Rioja, there is a stretch of the Qhapaq Ñan that connects Villa Unión to Londres.
- Catamarca to Tucumán: The provinces of Catamarca and Tucumán in northwestern Argentina are home to sections of the Qhapaq Ñan that can be hiked. These routes take you through rugged terrain and past archaeological sites.
- Cafayate to Tafí del Valle: In the province of Salta, the trail from Cafayate to Tafí del Valle is part of the Qhapaq Ñan network. It passes through beautiful landscapes and allows hikers to experience both natural beauty and historical significance.
- Quebrada de Humahuaca: While primarily known for its archaeological sites and cultural heritage, the Quebrada de Humahuaca in the province of Jujuy also features sections of the Qhapaq Ñan that can be explored on foot.
Moisés Ville, Santa Fe
Moisés Ville, located in the province of Santa Fe, is a historic town with significant cultural and religious importance. It is often referred to as the “Jerusalem of South America” due to its role as the first Jewish agricultural colony in Argentina.
The town was founded in 1889 by a group of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, primarily Russia and Poland. It was established as an agricultural colony with the support of the Jewish philanthropist Maurice de Hirsch, who aimed to provide opportunities for Jewish families to farm and build new lives in Argentina.
The town features historic architecture that reflects the cultural heritage of the early Jewish settlers. You can find synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, as well as the Jewish Museum of Moisés Ville, which offers a comprehensive look at the history of Jewish immigration to Argentina and the development of the colony.
Tigre, Buenos Aires
Founded in 1820, Tigre and its surrounding area in the Buenos Aires Province offer several historic sites and places of interest for visitors.
You can stroll around town to see colonial buildings – don’t miss the Tigre Club, an elegant social club and cultural center with a rich history. The club’s grand building is an architectural gem and has been a gathering place for Tigre’s elite for over a century.
Tour the Sarmiento House as well, a National Historic Monument now turned museum.
Housed in a beautiful historic building, the Tigre Art Museum (Museo de Arte Tigre) showcases a diverse collection of Argentine art. The architecture of the museum is noteworthy, and it often hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
While known for its craft and artisan market, Puerto de Frutos also has historical significance. It was originally a fruit market and a hub for river trade. Stroll through the market, shop for local crafts, and soak in the atmosphere.
You can also visit the Museo Reconquista and the San Isidro Cathedral. As well as explore the town of San Fernando, known for its riverfront promenade, historic buildings, and cultural events. The San Fernando Cathedral is another notable religious and architectural site in the area.
Archaeological Reserve Menhires, Tucumán
The Archaeological Reserve Menhires, also known as the “Menhires Archaeological Reserve Los Menhires,” is a notable archaeological site located in the province of Tucumán. This site features a collection of megalithic stone monoliths or menhirs arranged in a specific pattern.
These menhirs were erected by pre-Columbian indigenous people centuries ago, dating back over a thousand years, potentially to the period of the Hualfin culture, which existed in the region before the Inca Empire’s expansion.
They are believed to have been placed in specific alignments and patterns for ceremonial, religious, or astronomical purposes. The exact meaning and purpose behind their placement are still subjects of research and interpretation.
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