Buenos Aires is the third largest city in South America and is made up of 47 districts, inhabited by approximately 3 million people. These people referred to as Portenos, (Port People) are strongly characterized by their neo-latin language. This complex, energetic and seductive sea-port city was, for centuries, the gateway to Argentina. Favoured for its geographical position, at the mouth of a large river network, it is the departure point for numerous road and rail links. Surrounded by the almost limitless Pampas, this vast urban area is a metropolis open twenty four hours a day.
Founded by the Spanish in 1536, it became the capital of Argentina in 1880. During the Colonial Period the city grew, forming square-shaped districts around the Plaza de Mayo, which, even today, still preserves its beautiful colonial centre, where it is possible to admire the XVIII Century buildings in Peruvian Rococo and Portugese style. During the second half of the Eighteenth Century, the city was laid out, according to the french style of the Second Empire, with the formation of wide streets, from which the city radiated out in a semi-circle around the colonial centre, with the river forming the semi-circle’s axis. The roads spanned out and continued along their way through the Pampas. Today’s urban network is a uniformed structure of wide roads (some, like the Avenida de Mayo and the Avenida 9 de Julio, are over 100 metres wide) which intersect at right angles numerous tree-lined squares.
The way of life and the architecture here, are more noticeably European, than in any other place in South America. The city districts are small and strongly individual, each one having its own specific colours and shapes. The multi-ethnic inheritance of the city is embodied in its cosmopolitan architecture, where the Spanish Colonial style is placed side by side with the Italian eye for detail and the essentials of French Classicism. The physical structure of Buenos Aires is a varied mosaic, as diverse as the culture of its origins. It is impossible to single out a specific monument that represents the focal point of the city; there are a multitude of small places, each with its own intimate detail, special events and happenings, creating their own slightly different shapes, moods, and character. Glass skyscrapers cast their shadows on the XIX Century Victorian houses, while the tango bars fill with the cigar smoke of their regular customers and the antique shops, rich with numerous treasures, decorate the streets. Wrongly described as an ugly copy of Paris, Buenos Aires possesses an atmosphere rich in character and sophistication, distinctly European set in the heart of South America. The cafés are full of people engaged in lively conversation, elegant and luxurious shops line the streets along which the people stroll.
Hotels and lodgingEdit
One of the most important architectural works in the city is the Casa Rosada, the pink coloured Presidential Palace, which occupies the East side of the Plaza de Mayo, famous for its balcony, where such people as General Galtieri, Evita, Juan Peron and even Diego Maradona, have stood and addressed the crowd . Originally a fortress, the Casa Rosada was re-modelled as a palace for the Viceroy, when Buenos Aires became the capital of the River Plata Viceroyalty in 1776. It is a typical example of the influence of Italian and French style, painted shocking pink during the Sarmiento Presidency when, in 1873, he chose this colour because it represented both political parties, the red of the Federals and the white of the Unionists.
The Casa Rosada Museum is located underneath the South side of the building. Other notable palaces include The Congress (1906), The Parliament, The Justice (1904) and the Town Hall. Among the noteworthy religious buildings in Colonial style, are the churches of Our Blessed Lady, Saint Ignatius, Saint Dominic, and Saint Francis, all of which were built in and around the XVIII Century. La Boca, a picturesque district, where the city borders the mouth of the river Riachuelo, is famous for its football team, the Boca Juniors and for its small, highly coloured houses, made of wood and corrugated iron. These tiny houses, belonging to the dock workers and sailors from Genova, were made from material stripped from naval wrecks and covered with a rainbow of shades, painted by mural artists, who followed the initial works of the famous Argentinian painter Benito Quinque la Martine.
The most famous street in this area is the Calle Caminito, which has the finest examples of these colourful houses. It was once an important centre for the tango. In the 1920's, the children of rich families, came here to practise this famous dance, prohibited at that time. Visit the Calle Museum and the Boca Museum of Fine Arts, in Avenida del Libertador 1473. Here you will find the most comprehensive collection of paintings by local and European artists. San Telmo is another historic district, renown for being the district of artists and students. Here it is possible to find the best places, “Tanguerias,” to observe the tango and where you can listen to the best blend of old tango and new jazz . An antique and flea market is held every Sunday in Plaza Dorrego. Lastly, Buenos Aires possesses one of the most important opera houses in the world, the Colòn: its staff are actively involved in the cultural life of the city and if you are willing to lend an ear and share your own stories, they will happily tell you the secrets of this fine city.
For those interested in shopping, there is an embarrassingly extensive choice: in Calle Florida, Avenida Santa Fè y Cabildo, the Once district, Plaza Flores, in the shopping centre.
Maps and transportationEdit
Getting to Buenos AiresEdit
The city's two main airports are Ezeiza International Airport (EZE - 47km south-west of the city centre) and Jorge Newberry Domestic Airport (5km from downtown). Allow at least 45 minutes transit by taxi between the two airports.
Exploring Buenos AiresEdit
The best way to see the city is on foot, or by bus or the underground (Subte) in order to reach the more out-lying areas of the city. The underground has 5 lines (from A to E). Tokens are used, which can be bought from booths in the stations. Buses (colectivos) which also run at night, are a useful way to travel around within the city limits.There are a large number of black and yellow taxis which can be hailed along the street. The “Remises” are fixed rate taxis, which must be booked in advance. They are cheaper to use when travelling to and from the airport and can be booked by the hotel.
Practical information and resourcesEdit
- Currency: Argentinian Peso
- Electric supply: 220v 50 Hz C
- Climate: Temperate. In Summer (Dec- Mar) varies between 19 and 29°C, in Winter (Jun- Aug) between 8 and 15.5°C
- Language: Spanish(official) Amerind dialect, Guaicuru, Quechua, Tehuelce, English and Italian.
- Opening hours: The banks and the Bureau of Exchange are open Mon- Fri from 10am-3pm. Offices from 9am to 12pm and 2pm until 7pm Shops from 9/9:30am until 7:30pm (Saturdays 8:30/9am until 12.30/1pm), but in the outskirts and the busier zones, they usually close at mid-day and extend the afternoon opening hours. Cafès, cake shops and pizza restaurants, almost always open, only close between 2 and 6 am
- Restaurants: lunch is served from 1pm and dinner from 9pm
- Telephones: The public phones use a phone card and tokens (cospeles), which can be purchased from newsagents and the telephone company offices. There are also cash phones (in Buenos Aires at Corrientes 707, and San Martin 640 both of which are open 24 hours a day)
Cabaña Las Lilas, this place delivers a delicious meal in a fantastic location. Tel.: (54 11) 4313-1336, firstname.lastname@example.org, Av. Alicisa Moreau de Justo 516, Puerto Madero.
Buenos Aires Design Recoleta is a quiet peculiar small commercial center part recycled upon the colonial structures of the monastery and church 'del Pilar' part carved into the green hills of the neighboring park. The upper floor is reserved for restaurants and their expansive terraces. Primafila offers splendid Italian cuisine and is by far the best in the area. For its sheer opposite you can find Hard Rock Café Buenos Aires just a floor higher. Av. Pueyrredón 2501 (and Av. Libertador), Recoleta.
Buller Pub & Brewery offers about 6 varieties of beer brewed in sight. Best place to have a cold one in B.A. Presidente Ortz 1827, Recoleta.
Buenos Aires is a city where it is possible to tranquilly stroll around and benefit from the many night time entertainments that it has to offer: theatres, operas, open-air concerts, tango shows, films in their original language and discotheques open until dawn, to suit every age and taste.
'El living' (the living-room) is a very private, cozzy, great nightclub to feel home away from home. One can have late night dinner (mediterranean dishes, nothing fancy) and stay for drinks and 'alternative' music. Cool cool place. Marcelo T. de Alvear 1540 (1st floor), Recoleta. Tel: 4811-4730 / 4815-3379. Opens Thu, Fri, Sat and overnight.
Opera Bay is 'the place'. Electronic music, fantastic architecture, and local and international snobbs. Cecilia Grierson 225, Dock 4, Puerto Madero.
The Shamrock was the first Irish Pub to open in B.A. Quiet a nice place for an Irish meal or rather drinks and music. Rodríguez Peña 1220, Recoleta Tel: 4812-3584 email@example.com. Opens everyday from 6pm till closing (usually quiet late).
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