The Capitals of the World: Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the largest city of Argentina and its capital, being considered an Alpha World City and located on the southeastern coast of the South American continent and on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata. The Greater Buenos Aires conurbation is the third-largest in Latin America, making Buenos Aires the second-largest metropolitan area in South America and today including the nearby towns of Flores and Belgrado after being federalized. Its citizens are referred to as “people of the port” or “porteños”, the city being established in 1535 by a Spanish expedition led by Pedro de Mendoza and given the name of “Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre”, translated as “City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds”.
The majority of porteños have European origins, being Spanish or Italians from the Basque regions of Spain or the Neapolitan regions of Italy, but also Greek, Irish, Norwegian, German, Swedish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Russian, Croatian, English, Jewish and Welsh, but the list can go on.
As it is often defined in the popular tango, Buenos Aires is considered the jewel or the Silver Queen on the banks of the Río de la Plata and it is understandable how it got this name.
The Genoese immigrants chose the vibrant colors of purple, reds, greens and yellows for their classic conventillos or tenements, La Boca including many fine attractions such as the Museo de Cera or wax museum, the soccer stadium Bombonera, the exhibitions organized by the Proa Foundation or every weekend the craft fair taking place on tango famous Caminito street.
Another historic district is Monserrat, with the famous architecture of the Inglesia de San Ignacio on the Manzana de las Luces, underground tunnels and its historic Plaza de Mayo.
Plaza de Mayo is popular for its historical building such as the National Bank of Argentina, the Catedral Metropolitana and the monument Pirámide de Mayo, nearby being the San Ignacio Basilica and the historic Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires.
Down the riverbank we find the district of Puerto Madero with movie theatres, offices, exclusive residential buildings and luxurious restaurants. An interesting fact is that all the streets of this area bear the names of women while nearby you can also pay a visit to the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur.
In the historic district of San Telmo you can find the famous location where the National Independence was proclaimed in 1816, Plaza Dorrego, nearby being the Museo Histórico Nacional and one of the oldest in the country. Other important locations are the church of San Domingo, the commercial gallery of Pasaje de la Defense which was originally a mansion dating from 1880, and the Balcarce street renowned for its tango houses and restaurants.
Belgrano is one of the dynamic and busiest areas of Buenos Aires with the impressive look-alike open-air market, Cabildo, and the numerous cultural locations such as the Museo Casa de Yrurtia, the Museo Histórico Sarmiento and the Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta, Chinatown and even a Buddhist monastery.
The city’s most elegant district is Recoleta, with its gardens of Plaza Francia, the Palais de Glace, the Centro Cultural Recoleta or the “City of the Dead” located at Cementerio de la Recoleta where the remains of Evita and other celebrities lie.
Palermo is the right place for everyone, with the Palermo Woods and Rose Garden being ideal spots for walking, with bars of the Feria Plaza Serrano, the the Galileo Galilei Planetarium, the Jardín Zoológico or the attractive Japanese gardens; some of the most expensive restaurants in Buenos Aires are located in this region.
People often refer to Buenos Aires as the “Paris of South America” because it is a city heavily influenced by the European culture, being the site of several symphony orchestras and the Teatro Colón, and every April housing the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, the fifth largest in the world.
Buenos Aires is a city where English is widely spoken, and the explorations of its areas can be accessible with the integrated transport systems which include buses, trains and metros but tourists have the possibility of touring around with the help of an MP3 audio guide or organized sightseeing buses or bike tours. The possibilities are numerous since Buenos Aires became in the recent years one of the most important tourist spots of South America and even the most demanding tourists can be sure of the fact that they won’t get bored in such a cosmopolitan and eclectic city.11