Buenos Aires is a complex, energetic, and seductive port city which stretches south-to-north along the Rio de la Plata and which has been the gateway to Argentina for centuries. Porteños, * (see following notation), as the multinational people of Buenos Aires are known, possess an elaborate and rich cultural identity. They value their European heritage highly where Italian and German names outnumber Spanish and their lifestyle and architecture are markedly more European than any other in South America.
*Porteño (feminine: porteña) in Spanish it is used to refer to a person who is from or lives in a port city, but it can also be used as an adjective for anything related to those port cities. The largest city to which the term is commonly applied is Buenos Aires, Argentina and since the end of the 19th century Porteños has come to be the name of the people from that city
RECOLETA is the upscale district of Buenos Aires which combines Parisian architecture with expensive high rises and a variety of cultural venues. The Recoleta neighborhood is distinguished by its great cultural spaces. In addition to historical monuments, it is home to the National Fine Arts Museum or Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the National Library of Argentina, and the Recoleta Cultural Center.
The upscale and fashionable barrio of Ricoleta reflects the strong European influence in the Buenos Aires.
*Please see Note at end of this posting)
The Church of Our Lady of the Pillar (elevated to the status of Basilica in 1936 by Pope Pius XI) is the second oldest existing church in Buenos Aires. In 1942 it was declared a National Historic Monument.
The entrance to the cemetery is through neo-classical gates with tall Doric columns.The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues, in a wide variety of architectural styles such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic. Recoleta Cemetery includes graves of many of Argentina's historical figures, including Eva Perón, several presidents and scientists, as well as many from Argentina's most influential families. The cemetery is truly a remarkable venue and one not to be missed while visiting Buenos Aires.
BARRIO SAN TELMO:
The barrio of SAN TELMO could not be more different in character and lifestyle from the barrio of Recoleta and is one of my favorites neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.
San Telmo* is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. The multinational heritage of Buenos Aires is embodied in the varied architecture of San Telmo including Spanish Colonial design coupled with Italian detailing and graceful French Classicism. San Telmo is also steeped in the city's history. It was a fashionable district for years until a series of yellow fever epidemics in the mid to late 1800's drove the inhabitants north into what is now the upscale barrio of Recoleta and the lower classes and immigrants moved in.
* from "Saint Pedro Gonzales Telmo" go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Gonz%C3%A1lez
An unbelievable amount of "antiques" and memorabilia can be found in San Telmo if you have the patience!
Meeting the artist in action is always special and a great way to appreciate the art offerings.
On Sundays, San Telmo’s main street is closed to traffic and the street becomes a sea of both locals and tourists browsing craft stalls, waiting at vendors' carts for freshly squeezed orange juice, poking through the antique glass ornaments on display on Plaza Dorrego, and listening to street performances by a variety of music groups. San Telmo is lively, somewhat crazy, and definitely the happening place to be on Sundays in Buenos Aires.
BARRIO LA BOCA:
La Boca's pressed tin houses are painted a rainbow of colors and muralists have turned the district's side streets into avenues of color. Wow!
This working class area, originally populated by Italian dock workers, has bloomed into a colorful center of art, restaurants, and the colorful metal houses which are in total contrast and a pleasant change from the rest of the city. And yet this old port district still maintains its 19th century ambiance.
The La Boca neighborhood was so named for its position at “the mouth” of the Rio (river) Riachuelo and its role as the port of call for thousands of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and other European countries. Those settlers struggled, starved, hoped, and celebrated in this rough-and-tumble barrio. Today, La Boca is the domain of the working class, bohemian artists, rabid soccer fans, and tango artists.
La Boca is a very popular destination for tourists and nationals visiting Buenos Aires with its colorful houses and the pedestrian street, the Caminito, where tango artists perform and tango-related memorabilia is sold. The name "Caminito" means "little walkway" or "little path" in Spanish and is both a traditional alley and a living street museum. This walkway as is the soul of La Boca and it has also acquired cultural significance because it inspired the music for the famous tango "Caminito."
The brightly pained houses on the Caminito are stunning and a main attraction of La Boca. The painter Benito Quinquela Martín was a leading influence in the use of color and his home, now the Museo de Bellas Artes de La Boca, displays his paintings of dock workers.
What's not to like about futbol (soccer) in Argentina!
Buenos Aires, for the most part, is a very walk able city and the majority of residents in Buenos Aires use public transport including the fabulous underground subway system known as the SUBTE. The Buenos Aires Underground (locally known as subte from "subterráneo" meaning underground or subway), is a high-yield system providing access to various parts of the city including the barrios we have visited. Pedestrian zones in the city center like Florida Street are partially car-free and always bustling with access provided by bus and the Underground (subte) Line C.
The underground subway system, the "Subte," is fast, clean, easy, and efficient. What a way to go!
These amazing murals are only a few of the many fabulous works of art as seen in the underground subway, "Subte" system in Buenos Aires. Don't you wish that all large cities had such a wonderful transportation system? I do!
To me Buenos Aires is beautiful, exciting, challenging, and never boring! I hope you will be able to join me again when I share more of Buenos Aires and other fabulous and colorful areas of Argentina.
At the reptile exhibit we not only viewed this incredible creature, but caught on film the hatching birth of its young. What a surprise!
I hope you have enjoyed this mini-introduction to Buenos Aires and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Gracias, Laura