Túnel de la Iglesia San Ignacio de Loyola

Useful Information

Location: Calle Bolivar 255, CABA, Buenos Aires.
(-34.610556, -58.373611)
Open: All year Tue 16, Thu 11:30, 16, Sat 15, 17.
See online booking.
Fee: Adults ARS 1,550, Children (6-12) ARS 1250, Seniors ARS 1250.
Classification: SubterraneaEnigmatic Cavern
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=90 min. Español - Spanish
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Túnel de la Iglesia San Ignacio de Loyola, Calle Bolivar 255, CABA, Buenos Aires, Tel: +54-4331-2458. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1608 Jesuits arrive in Buenos Aires and settle in Plaza de Mayo.
1661 Jesuits relocate to Manzana de las Luces and construct San Ignacio de Loyola church.
1675 San Ignacio de Loyola church completed.
1712 renovation of church in its current state.
1734 church consecrated.
2003 a broken pipe floods the tunnel and makes renovatiosn necessary.
11-NOV-2021 tunnels reopened.


Túnel de la Iglesia San Ignacio de Loyola (Tunnel of San Ignacio de Loyola Church) is a so-called Jesuit tunnel from the beginning of the 18th century, below the church of San Ignacio de Loyola, the oldest church in Buenos Aires. The floor is compressed earth, the traces of picks show that the tunnel was dug from south to north. They used pick, bar, shovel, and leather buckets. The underground was limestone with a lot of clay. Niches were carved for candles.

The reason for the tunnel is not very clear, but it is obviously part of an unfinished network. Most of the tunnels are not accessible, because they were filled in or destroyed. They were most likely built for the defense of the city and for the connection between strategic sites, although it seems weird that monks build military structures. Those túneles jesuíticos (Jesuit tunnels) are mostly lost, or just a legend, they are said to have extended to Calle Belgrano and Calle Perú, towards the Cabildo and the Cathedral, finally reaching the river. But those legends are quite vague, and some are ridiculous. For example the smuggling theory, its quite unlikely they needed tunnels for that, actually smuggling was more or less tolerated in colonial times. The escape in case of attacks, for example by pirates, the protection of the church valuables and reliquaries, even the storage of arms seems more likely. Possible is even clandestine slave trade, although one would think that the Jesuits would not have participated in this.

The reason why the tunnels are so enigmatic is the complete lack of documentary evidence. So far not a single document has been found why they were built. And there is also no archaeological evidence in the tunnels, no remains of the formerly stored goods. This would make strategic transport of people and weapons more likely than storage of anything.

The tunnels are open today by an accident. In 2003 the tunnel was on the brink of collapse due to a broken pipe which flooded the structure. This threatened not only the church above, but also the cloister of the Colegio Grande de San Ignacio. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who is today Pope Francis, entrusted the renovation to Francisco Baigorria, parish priest of San Ignacio.

The church is obviously all year, but the tunnels are part of the guided tour which also includes the cloister of the Colegio Grande de San Ignacio, the predecessor of the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires (National College of Buenos Aires), the church of San Ignacio, its two towers (1680 and the clock) and its midwives. The tour takes 90 minutes and starts at Calle Bolivar 225. Meet 15 minutes earlier. The renovated tunnel is only 40 m long, and has two short side tunnels.