In 1998, former President Carlos Ménem began constructing South America’s biggest mosque, today called the Centro Cultural Islámico. Although catholic at the time of his presidency, Ménem was of Syrain Muslim decent and on return from a visit to Saudi Arabia he decided to build the mosque in homage to his ancestry, finishing this project in 2000. The entire project cost more than $30 million dollars, which includes the mosque, a library, two schools, and a park.
The mosque covers an impressive amount of land, has well-tended lawns, palm trees, and minarets. This enormous structure overlooks the polo grounds and has a modern design and structure that looks equally impressive in the sunlight as it does artificially lit during the night. Students in Spanish immersion courses in Buenos Aires may have noticed this amazing structure when passing through Palermo or taking the city trains. The mosque library is open to the public during the week, and the centre itself offers classes in Koran and Arabic.
Students studying Spanish immersion in Buenos Aires can learn more about this fascinating mosque Tuesday and Thursdays at noon. The tour last 45 minutes and you will be taken through the courtyards and interior of the building; tours are often in Spanish, therefore being a great Spanish lesson for students studying Spanish in Buenos Aires.