KNOWING A LITTLE ABOUT BUENOS AIRES
Buenos Aires sprawls along the banks of the muddy La Plata river, stretches inland in new developments, and is often gray and gloomy. It is a huge city composed of neighborhoods, or barrios. The older ones surrounding the city center are the most famous ones: the barrios which attract tourism. Apart from the colorful tin buildings of the La Boca barrio and the famed pink tones of the Casa Rosada the presidential palace, the city is mostly monochromatic.
The people of Buenos Aires who refer to themselves as porteños, or port people, relish their ties to Europe, flaunt their creative energy, delight in culture, fashion food and share a traditional melancholy for things past.
Buenos Aires was founded in 1536 when Pedro de Mendoza established a settlement on the bluffs above the river but native resistance forced the Spaniards out for nearly fifty years. They came back and tried again. It was slow going particularly under the restrictions of the Spanish crown regarding trade but the growing number of criollo residents persisted. They established trade with other South American and European countries creating traditions still in force today. Argentina proclaimed its Independence from Spain in 1816 and encouraged immigration from Europe.
The emigrants settled mostly in Buenos Aires bringing with them their culture and customs. These influences were slow to reach the provinces where landowners retained their older more conservative way of life. By 1900, following the beef boom of the 1880's, Buenos Aires was South America's largest city with a million or more European residents.
Today Buenos Aires is vast, yet easily accessible by subway or Subte. The portions of most interest to visitors surround the compact central area around the Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world, which runs from Plaza Constitución to Avenida del Libertador and the exclusive northern suburbs. Intersecting the Avenida 9 de Julio, the Avenida de Mayo runs west from the Casa Rosada at Plaza de Mayo to the congressional buildings at Plaza del Congreso. Street names change at Avenida de Mayo. On the northeastern corner the Retiro train station, the bus terminal and a number of airline terminals are conveniently grouped.
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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 present a refreshing change from the rest of the city. The colors come from the brightly painted houses on the Caminito a pedestrian walk named for the tango of the same name and the waters of the Riachuelo stained by oil sludges. 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.
La Boca is the most colorful neighborhood in Buenos Aires. You can appreciate it for its charms. Cobblestone pedestrian streets lined with artists and interesting little shops compete with shabby metal houses painted in wild colors for your eye's attention. It's definitely worth a few hours to stroll around and take some photos.
Historically, the neighborhood is famous for giving birth to the tango. Part of its charm also springs from its root as a a hotbed for Italian immigrants who moved in because of the close proximity to the Rio Riachuelo. It's actually called La Boca (mouth, in Spanish) because of its location on the port of the river that is shaped like a mouth.
Another main attraction of La Boca is the neighborhood's popular soccer team, the Boca Juniors. A few blocks away from the main street El Caminito, you'll find the Estadio de Boca Juniors (their stadium) where the most famous Argentinean player of all-time Diego Maradona once played
San Telmo is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, until 1870 it was inhabited by the wealthiest families in the city. In 1871's Yellow Fever epidemic forced them to move North. With the passing of time, San Telmo's appearance changed and it became a sightseeing must' in which old time's valuable architecture can be appreciated.
Among the interest spots you'll find the Orthodox Russian Church (1904), La Defensa" Alley (typical eighteenth century large house that recreates the Colonial Buenos Aires) and Colonel Manuel Dorrego Square (every Sunday from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. there's an antiques fair), where you can spend some time at a coffee shop, tango or jazz dance clubs.
The virtue of San Telmo neighborhood lies on those interesting places one gets to know while walking, while going through stone pavement and narrow streets that surround colonial buildings, many of which act as antique dealers and ateliers. If you want to feel something different, it's worth the visit. The market on a Sunday is a great thing to appreciate and enjoy, I really recommend this excursion!!!!