Saturday, January 31, 2015
ARGENTINA: FAVORITE BARRIOS IN BUENOS AIRES
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.
The monks of the Order of the Recoletos arrived in this area, then the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in the early eighteenth century. The cemetery is built around their convent and a church, Our Lady of the Pilar, built in 1732. It was designed by the French architect Prosper Catelin at the request of President Bernardino Rivadavia and was dedicated in 1822 after the Order of the Recoletos was disbanded. The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Pilar located in The Recoleta Cemetery is also a national historic monument.
Set in fourteen (14) acres, the Recoleta Cemetery contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums. The cemetery is a labyrinth of haunting, gorgeous mausoleums belonging to the city’s rich, famous, and powerful families.
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.
San Telmo is now a well-preserved area with cobble stoned streets, low buildings and residential areas, antique shops, and cafes which are often filled with artists and tango dancers. Other attractions include old churches including San Pedro Telmo, museums, and the famed Sunday antique fair (FERIA DE ANTIGUEDADES) in Plaza Dorrego, the main square. San Telmo's many tango bars are an excellent place to learn and dance the tango.
Meeting the artist in action is always special and a great way to appreciate the art offerings.
BARRIO LA BOCA:
LA BOCA, in my opinion, is the most picturesque of all the barrios in Buenos Aires. La Boca retains a strong European flavor with many of its early settlers being from the Italian city of Genoa. 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.
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.
*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
Meeting the Porteños, the locals of Buenos Aries, is part of the magic of living in Argentina.
A very large portion of the population of Buenos Aries have four legs and dog walkers are a thriving profession!
Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is a vast mosaic and is as varied and diverse as its culture. It is a large and grand city with great architecture, beautiful parks, stylish people, a rich cultural life, an easy-going way of living, wonderful food (especially for carnivores!), Argentinean red wine, and of course, the tango. Buenos Aires is, without a doubt, my favorite large city that my husband and I have lived in during our "nomadic" years and writing this blog posting is bringing back nothing but wonderful memories and nostalgia.
Buenos Aires is known for its "cafe society" culture and here it is very evident as seen in San Telmo on their Sunday Street Fair market day.
To appreciate Buenos Aires, along with the rest of this large South American country, it is vital to have an understanding of WHO ARE ARGENTINES? I have heard a number of descriptions of this colorful nationality, but in essence they are Italians, living in Argentina, speaking Spanish, thinking of themselves English and living in Paris. Whew!
As if that isn't enough for a visitor to comprehend, it is also important to understand that Argentines are a very proud people, warm, friendly, and easy going, with a great sense of style, loving late nights and dining, and devoted to tango. If you can embrace this multiple personality and lifestyle, then you will enjoy Argentina and all of its magic.
Much of the life of Buenos Aires is found in their cafes, their tango venues, and their parks.
We caught this couple practicing their tango routine while we enjoyed our lunch - a show on the house!
Buenos Aires is often called the "Paris of South America," for its grand architecture and rich European heritage. But the city and its people are a study in contrasts. Buenos Aires which sprawls over 78 square miles (202 square kilometers) and has a population of approximately three million, is a mosaic of distinct neighborhoods called barrios from the frenetic downtown and working-class neighborhoods such as LA BOCA and SAN TELMO, to wealthy districts such as RECOLETA and trendy Palermo, to middle-class barrios such as Belgrano and Caballito.
The architecture of Buenos Aires is very impressive and the streets are always busy with activity
Now that we have met the Porteños, the people of Buenos Aires, I would like to invite you to visit three of the many barrios (neighborhoods) that make up Buenos Aires. The city's neighborhoods are highly individualized and each with its own personalities and lifestyles. Three of our favorite barrios were RECOLETA, SAN TELMO, and LA BOCA. So if you are ready, let's go!
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.
Many cafes can be found among the beautiful and distinctive old homes and buildings. And like the Porteños, we enjoyed the outdoor cafe culture by having a cup of coffee with a traditional pastry and people watching. Recoleta is definitely where the city's wealthy congregate. We, however, enjoyed this barrio principally for its large beautiful park where outdoor weekend fairs were held and for the incredible Recoleta Cemetery. The Recoleta Cemetery is one of the main tourist attractions not only of Recoleta, but of the city of Buenos Aires.
RECOLETA CEMETERY:(Please see note at end of this posting)
Recoleta Cemetery is not only a feast for the eyes, but it reflects the complex history of Buenos Aires and Argentina
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.
One of the "streets" of Recoleta Cemetery which has been referred to as "The City of the Dead."
The mausoleums in the Recoleta Cemetery are absolutely stunning and a guided tour is highly recommended in order to appreciate and understand its history.
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.
Walking the "streets" of the Recoleta Cemetery, the "City of the Dead," in Buenos Aires is amazing and an absolute must.
BARRIO SAN TELMO:
Tango, tango, tango: the heart and soul of Argentina!
* from "Saint Pedro Gonzales Telmo" go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Gonz%C3%A1lez
The architecture in San Telmo and in much of Buenos Aires reflects the European heritage of Argentina.
San Telmo's weekly Street Fair is extremely colorful and fun with something for everyone to enjoy.
Live music can also be enjoyed on Sundays in San Telmo during their weekly Street Fair.
An unbelievable amount of "antiques" and memorabilia can be found in San Telmo if you have the patience!
Mimes are also found in San Telmo entertaining locals and visitors alike.
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.
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!
To live and love in Argentina is to tango!
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."
To tango is to dance wherever and whenever the mood strikes!
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.
Also found on the Caminito is a handcraft fair during week-ends and holidays with plenty of handcrafts, paintings, and souvenirs. It is not unusual to hear tango music and singers with tango dancers also during the weekends. La Boca is a small cultural refuge with many artists, bohemians, and craters having settled in the zone. There are also educational centers offering photography classes, cinematography classes, and a variety of art studios. Visiting La Boca is fun and a great change of pace while visiting Buenos Aires and highly recommended.
Come to La Boca and celebrate the joy of its culture!
And last, but certainly not least, among sports fans, La Boca is best known for being the home of the world recognized futbol (soccer) club the Boca Juniors. The club plays their home matches in the impressive Estadio Alberto J. Armando which is popularly known as La Bombonera (the chocolate box in Spanish). If you can obtain tickets for a game, I am betting the experience will never be forgotten!
What's not to like about futbol (soccer) in Argentina!
GETTING AROUND BUENOS AIRES:
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.
Check out this fabulous street mural as seen at one of the SUBTE'S entrances in Buenos Aires!
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!
*SPECIAL NOTE: My sincere thanks and appreciation to Tom and his wonderful web site which rescued me when I discovered many of my Buenos Aires photographs, including the Recoleta Cemetery and La Boca, had been lost. Fortunately for me, I found Tom's great website in my time of desperation. Without his generous sharing of his beautiful photography I would not have been able to complete this posting. The following is the link to his website. Please enjoy and un mil gracias! http://www.amazing-world-in-free-stock-pictures-and-photos.com/
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.
You will notice that I am closing this posting with a few photographs taken at the wonderful Jardín Zoológico de Buenos Aires (the Buenos Aires Zoo) which is located in the large and multi-faceted barrio of Palermo. You will also find many more animals in my Web Album which is found at the bottom of this page. Here are a few samples:
Rhinos living in the urban "jungle" of Buenos Aires - what a lovely habitat if you have to live in a zoo!
These elephants feel "right at home" living near the India-inspired "Elephant House" - how beautiful!
At the reptile exhibit we not only viewed this incredible creature, but caught on film the hatching birth of its young. What a surprise!
Now that you have visited my three favorite barrios in Buenos Aires, I hope you still have the time and the energy to sit back, relax, and view the following BUENOS AIRES WEB ALBUM
I hope you have enjoyed this mini-introduction to Buenos Aires and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Until then, happy trails and safe travels! Gracias, Laura
Memories are just a click away!