The Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires is a sprawling metropolis located on the western bank of the Río de la Plata (La Plata River) from where it gets its most popular nickname, La Reina del Plata, or the Queen of the Plata River.
This second largest South American capital, home to about a quarter of Argentina’s 42 million people, is not only the political capital but is also the cultural and economic hub of the country and serves as a convenient launch pad to the rest of the country – the gateway to Argentina if you like.
Many parts of this endearing city evoke memories of Paris, earning it another fondly referred-to nickname, the Paris of Argentina.
The city’s wide avenues, classic hotels, diverse neighborhoods, a fine blend of modern and European architecture and, to add to that, a generally fine weather, all combine to make this endearing South American city a visitor’s delight.
Established as a gold and silver port in the 16th century, Buenos Aires, which when translated means “fair winds,” got its name from Spanish traders who, with their skills in trade and commerce, made Argentina one of the richest countries of the time.
The city’s fortunes may have since faded, but the splendor of yore still remains for all to see.
Buenos Aires Neighborhoods and their Attractions
The former immigrant ghetto in Buenos Aires is now a working-class colorful neighborhood abuzz with activity.
It is home to two attractions that, perhaps, every visitor to the city would like to experience: the La Bombonera Stadium, home ground of the Boca Juniors soccer team from where the god of soccer Deigo Maradona made his humble beginnings, and the other must-see attraction is the “El Caminito,” the country’s most famous walkway by the water, full of street artists.
Plaza de Mayo
So diverse are the residents Buenos Aires that when you ask an Argentinean what’s the best place visit, you will be sent in different directions, but everyone will agree that you can’t miss the Plaza de Mayo.
Surrounded by historical buildings, the Plaza de Mayo is, arguably, the most important square in the whole of Argentina. A site for national celebrations and political gatherings and demonstrations, Plaza de Mayo is a testament to the interesting history of the city and the country.
The plaza owes its name to the May Revolution of 1810 when the city declared its independence from Spanish control, giving rise to the Argentine War of Independence.
The Pirámide de Mayo at the plaza’s center was built in 1811 to celebrate the first anniversary of independence.
A look at the balcony of the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace, is reminiscent of the waving Eva Perón in the popular musical “Evita.”
Go to the Evita Museum in the Palermo neighborhood to learn all about the fairy tale life of this remarkable First Lady of Argentina.
An impoverished actress from rural Argentina, she married President Juan Perón a year before he was elected to the highest office and became the heroine of the working class.
News of her death in 1952 had drawn hundreds of thousands of fans and admirers to Plaza de Mayo who came to pay their last respects to the diva. Her tomb at the Recoleta Cemetery is the most photographed grave in the country.
The Metropolitan Cathedral
Located in the San Nicolás neighborhood, overlooking the Plaza de Mayo, the Metropolitan Cathedral is Buenos Aires’ main Catholic church.
While the roots of this place of worship can be traced back to the early 16th century, when the colonizers established the country’s first churches here, work on the Neoclassical façade of the cathedral did not start until as late as the 19th century.
From the outside, the church may look somewhat plain but the interior is done in exquisite -Renaissance and Neo-Baroque style and houses numerous masterful works of art, including 18th-century altarpieces and statues, as well as a Walcker organ dating from 1871 that includes an impressive 3,500 pipes.
The cathedral is also the final resting place of General José de San Martín, one of Argentina’s most revered revolutionary heroes.
Visit the San Telmo neighborhood and buy yourself some souvenirs from one or more of the patio shops in rustic colonial-era buildings. Scour the artisan markets for collectibles and antiques and even enjoy live music in the area.
Every Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm, this exotic barrio hosts the Feria de San Telmo, an antique fair comprising 270 stalls in Plaza Dorrego. Some 10,000 people, mostly tourists from all over the world, are drawn to this fair.
Tango shows and orchestras keep the visitors entertained as they browse through the antique shops, eat, or simply hang around, soaking up the ambiance.
Puerto Madero is a redeveloped upmarket port area with modern parks and contemporary architecture complementing the well-preserved buildings from the port’s glorious past.
“Trails loop around several lakes at the wildlife-rich Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, which draws families and joggers. Spanning the docks, Puente de la Mujer is a graceful suspension bridge.”
Other important attractions
Teatro Colón: Classic, ornate performing-arts theatre
El Ateneo Grand Splendid: Huge bookstore in an old theatre
Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens: Japanese garden with koi ponds & plants
Plaza San Martín: Landmark cliffside park featuring a notable equestrian monument, open green space & ancient trees.
MALBA: Modern museum showcasing 20th century & newer Latin American artwork, cultural events & films.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes: Museum in the former colonial government building with exhibits about the culture of the country.
Parque Tres de Febrero: Expansive, tranquil park featuring 4 scenic lakes, a large rose garden & various tree species
Galerías Pacífico: Mural-filled shopping mall with tax-free shopping for visitors & guided tours of the grand building.
Congressional Plaza: Major public space outside the Senate; opened for the 100th anniversary of the revolution, this square contains lavishly carved fountains
Botanical Garden: Guided tours are available at this 17-acre botanical garden with a greenhouse & rare continental plants
Torre Monumental: This clocktower was given to the city by its British community in 1916, to commemorate independence