Clearly defined in the popular tango — "Buenos Aires, la reina de la Plata" — Buenos Aires is the Silver Queen. Along the banks of the Río de la Plata, the city spreads out its eclectic culture of art, music and incomparable nightlife. Buenos Aires was born with its eyes looking toward Europe, and as a result, it displays a touch of Madrid and a touch of Paris. Some assert this mix of styles surpasses the originals. However, the city does reveal its own stamp as well: the tango districts, the ubiquitous colectivo buses, the magic of the coffeehouses, and above all, the dynamism of the proud inhabitants, the Porteños. In this city, there are the poor areas, the large accordians, the spirit of the tango and deeply-entrenched folklore throughout the place. The passage of time has brought urbanism, the avant-garde and tourism which has been caught up by the enchantment of a country that is capable of creating new scenes.
Tourists favor this picturesque district for its rich history and vibrant colors: greens, yellows, reds and purples highlight the urban scenery. Genoese immigrants chose these colors for their classic conventillos or tenements. These colors also dominate the works of the painter Benito Quinquela Martín, who immortalized his beloved barrio. In
Continuing down the riverbank, we find the recently transformed district of
Prior to its official inauguration in September of 1998, this section of the port had fallen into disrepair. Today, luxurious restaurants, offices and movie theaters have replaced the ancient brick silos, making this the city's most exclusive district, preferred by tourists and business travelers. All the streets of Puerto Madero carry the names of women. The Boulevard Azucena Villaflor directly connects the city to the river. Every Saturday and Sunday, another street, Calle Vera Peñaloza becomes a pedestrian-only zone, where the public can skate, ride bicycles or stroll. Nearby one will find the
This district preserves colonial-style houses along narrow cobblestone lanes, illuminated with pretty wrought iron lanterns. In
The Bohemian character of the district flourishes every weekend at the antique fair held in
This is another historic district, where evidence of Buenos Aires' past surprises visitors at every turn. In colonial times, Monserrat was the political, economic, social and cultural center of the city. Here, the Porteños defended themselves against English invasions. One can still experience history in Monserrat today just by visiting a few of the buildings, streets and underground tunnels that traverse the district. Take a stroll through
Without a doubt, this is the city's most elegant district. The opulence of the houses and manors symbolizes the splendor of the Argentine aristocracy. The area is a meeting point for tourists and locals with an interest in international design and aesthetics.
During the day, take a stroll through the gardens of
During the middle of the 19th Century, this was the summer home of many local families. Today, it contains much of the city's social and cultural activity. Attractions include the
Belgrano is one of the busiest, most dynamic areas of the city, with people coming and going by train, bus and subway, and with bars, cafes and kiosks everywhere. If you want to shop, Belgrano is a paradise for the modern consumer. Cabildo gives the impression of an authentic open-air market street. Chinatown is one of the area's newest attractions. In addition to the typical Chinese restaurants, there is a Buddhist monastery, and every February there's a celebration of the Chinese New Year.
In Palermo, there is something for everyone. Here some of Buenos Aires' most expensive restaurants intermix with the bars of the
Buenos Aires has everything you expect from a large cosmopolitan city, including fabulous round-the-clock entertainment options.
Art galleries are found scattered throughout the capital. In Recoleta, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes displays a permanent exhibition of Argentine works. The Centro Cultural Recoleta houses art from all over the world. Modern paintings and sculptures can be found across the street in the Palais de Glace. Towards the north end of the city, the Palermo neighborhood boasts the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, the Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández, and the Museo de Artes Plásticas. Further north, in the charming Belgrano district, there is the Museo de Arte Español. All of these museums and galleries display both permanent and temporary exhibits, in addition to hosting conferences, classes, musical and theatrical performances, and guided tours.
Two streets, Corrientes and Lavalle, have the majority of the city's traditional movie theaters, although there are many U.S.-style theater complexes inside malls and shopping centers like the Alto Palermo Shopping and the Abasto de Buenos Aires. All but children's movies are shown in their original languages with subtitles. Certain venues show uncommon and alternative films, including the Sala Leopoldo Lugones. Check the local newspapers or their Internet movie listings to get the current schedules.
The sultry cadence and moves of the tango can be seen in many of the bars located in the San Telmo district, including El Viejo Almacén, the Bar Sur and Tango Taconeando. For those wishing to learn a few a steps, there are many dance halls spread around the city, such as the La Viruta Tango Bar in Palermo. Downtown there is La Academia Nacional del Tango.
In addition, Buenos Aires has flamenco, folk music, salsa, merengue, samba, rock & roll and hip-hop classes or dance halls spread around the city.
Historic and theme museums abound throughout the city. These include the Museo Histórico Nacional, on the Parque Lezama; and the Museo del Cabildo in front of the presidential palace, which has its own museum, the Museo de la Casa de Gobierno. Other museums of interest include the Museo Etnográfico, the Carlos Gardel Museum, the Museo Judío de Buenos Aires, the Natural Sciences Museum, the Puppet Museum, the Film Museum, the Museo de Cera, and a recent addition, the National Museum of Man. Caminito in La Boca neighborhood is clearly an open-air museum of its own. Lastly, visit the floating Fragata Sarmiento Museum, moored in Dock 3 by the promenade in the chic San Telmo district.
All year round, Buenos Aires tango music thrives at Viejo Almacén, La Ventana, Señor Tango and Tango Taconeando, all in the San Telmo district. Brazilian music prevails at Maluco Beleza on Sarmiento. Government-sponsored open-air shows take place at different plazas throughout the city. The San Martín Cultural Center hosts musical performances, including classical, opera and national music. Rock concerts featuring famous international artists are often held in the River Plate Stadium and the Bombonera and the famous Luna Park. Café Tortoni is famous for its tango and jazz shows held in the café's cellar.
Dozens of theaters can be found throughout Buenos Aires offering a little taste of everything. The Gran Rex hosts top musical shows. The Teatro Cervantes is an architectural masterpiece, while the Teatro Municipal General San Martín is more modern and avant garde in its presentations. Cultural centers include the Centro Ricardo Rojas, the Centro Cultural Recoleta and the Teatro de la Ribera in La Boca. Others of interest include the Teatro Maipo, along with alternative theaters like La Trastienda.
Cafes, Bars & Nightlife
As legendary as Prague's café society, Buenos Aires is a paradise for Bohemian lifestyles. The whole city seems to enjoy the burst of creativity a demitasse of espresso can provide. Here too, coffeehouses have been meeting points for famous poets, politicians and even revolutionaries. Las Violetas is a historic cafe and Café Tortoni has preserved its original style.
In the administrative district, foreigners popularized Happy Hour, especially in the Irish and English pubs around Retiro district. This includes the The Shamrock.
Hot nightlife defines the city, and most establishments stay open until the wee hours. Some of the hotspots include La Trastienda in San Telmo; La Ideal in downtown; Caix and Pizza Banana around the Costanera area. Tango is found in the districts of San Telmo and La Boca, flamenco in Palermo, and salsa throughout the city. As in Spain, people start hitting the dance floors after midnight. Most clubs and bars stay open until daybreak, as do some restaurants and pizzerias.