Buenos Aires is called The Paris of America. These are 15 powerful reasons that confirm it.
1. Plaza de Mayo
We recommend that you start your Buenos Aires walk through the founding site of the city, the Plaza de Mayo, so called by the May Revolution that established in 1810 the first independent government board of the provinces of the Río de la Plata, and the scene of great events in Argentine history.
In front of the square or in its vicinity are the main national monuments, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Casa Rosada and the Cabildo. Its green spaces are dominated by a ceibo whose purple buds are the National Flower. In the center of the square you can admire the May Pyramid and in a prominent place is the Equestrian Monument of General Manuel Belgrano, creator of the national flag.
2. Metropolitan Cathedral
In front of the Plaza de Mayo is the main Catholic temple in the country. Several cathedrals followed one another on the site until the current one was reached in the 18th century. The main altar is in the Churrigueresque style. In the right side aisle is the mausoleum of General José de San Martín, leader of the country’s Independence. The current floor of the cathedral dates from 1907 and was made in Great Britain with Venetian mosaic.
The Catholic temple also exhibits a work that alludes to Judaism, a mural that commemorates the Holocaust, the terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and the attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in 1994. In 2013 it was inaugurated in the cathedral the Museum of Pope Francis, who was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
3. Pink House
It is the most emblematic building in Buenos Aires, due to its characteristic pink color and because it is the seat of the Argentine national government. The palace harmonizes various artistic styles and the criteria of several prominent architects, including the Italian Francesco Tamburini and the Swedes Carl Kihlberg and Henrik Åberg.
The Government House Museum works in the building, with objects belonging to or linked to the presidents of the country. The sample has the presidential canes and bands of various leaders and among its main pieces are the desk of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, a cane and a bowler hat that belonged to Hipólito Yrigoyen and several cars.
4. Palace of Congress
The most outstanding part of this building is the 80-meter-high dome, at the time, the tallest structure in the country. The main façade faces Avenida Entre Ríos and its central atrium has 6 Corinthian columns that support a triangular pediment. On the sides of the main staircase there were two groups of nude sculptures by the artist Lola Mora, which were removed in 1916 due to pressure from influential people. Exact replicas were installed in 2015.
Another important piece of art is the 8-ton bronze chariot located on the ornate platform behind the pediment, the work of the sculptor Víctor de Pol.
5. House of Culture
This late 19th century building located at the intersection of Avenida de Mayo and Rivadavia, was initially built to serve as the headquarters for the popular newspaper La Prensa. The lines of the building follow the canons of the fashionable style of the moment, that of the School of Fine Arts in Paris. The two facades are the only ones in Argentina in the style of the famous French architect Charles Garnier, author of the Paris Opera House.
It is an almost entirely French work, both in design and in the executing firms, with the exception of the elevators, which were contracted to an American company that dominated the newest field of electricity. The placement of the statue of the goddess Athena in the front of the building was witnessed by 20,000 people, according to calculations of the time.
6. Barolo Palace
This palace, inaugurated in 1923, was for 12 years the tallest building in South America, along with its identical one, the Palacio Salvo in Montevideo, both built by the architect Mario Palanti. It was commissioned by the wealthy textile entrepreneur Luis Barolo, who spared no expense and imported all the materials for the finishes, including the Carrara marble for the coatings. In its highest part it has a beacon that was lit at special events.
The design of the palace is an architectural emulation of the Divine Comedy, due to the admiration that the Italians Palanti and Barolo felt for Dante. In the manner of the famous work, it has three parts and the two Italians dreamed of transferring the remains of his immortal compatriot to the building, to serve as a mausoleum.
7. Cafe Tortoni
This cafe is emblematic, mainly for its history as a meeting place for Argentine and international personalities since the 19th century. There are several versions about the origin of the name, one of them, that it was taken from a Parisian establishment with the same name.
In all the cities of the world there is a space (neighborhood, street, tavern, café) where figures of the arts and letters meet. The one in Buenos Aires was (and still is) Café Tortoni. A circle of artists and writers called La Peña del Tortoni operated in the café between 1926 and 1943. There you can sit in the same place where Alfonsina Storni, Juana de Ibarbourou, José Ortega y Gasset, Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur Rubinstein, Federico García Lorca, Juan Manuel Fangio and Carlos Gardel did.
8. Block of Lights ( Manzana de Las Luces)
Humanity had its Age of Enlightenment; since 1821, Buenos Aires has its apple. It is called Manzana de las Luces the block of the Buenos Aires historic center delimited by Julio A. Roca Avenue and Bolívar, Moreno and Alsina streets. The christening dates from 1821, when the newspaper El Argos used the name for the number of cultural institutions that were in the block.
The Church of San Ignacio, the oldest temple in the city, is still there; the National College of Buenos Aires, which opened its doors in 1770 as the Royal College of San Carlos; the original building of the University of Buenos Aires, inaugurated in 1821, and other houses of knowledge and culture.
9. San Telmo
It is the smallest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, but it has some of the most interesting attractions in the city. The first important building in the neighborhood was the Church of Nuestra Señora de Belén, erected in 1734 by order of the Jesuits. Now it is called Iglesia de San Pedro Telmo. Other emblematic buildings in the suburb are La Casa de los Ezeiza, where today there is an antique gallery; Defense Boulevard, almost always packed with people who visit its various places of interest; the Plaza Dorrego; and the Mercado de San Telmo, a former food outlet where several shops now operate, especially antique stores.
10. Dorrego Square
This square in San Telmo honors Manuel Dorrego, independence leader and leader of the federalism of the River Plate. It is a space very frequented by inhabitants and visitors, due to the large number of recreational places that are around it, such as cafes and bars with outdoor tables; theaters and street dances, including tango; restaurants and souvenir and antique shops.
11. La Boca
It would be unthinkable for you to go to Buenos Aires and not visit the La Boca neighborhood, the site of origin of the most important popular institution in the city, the Boca Juniors football club. The neighborhood began at the mouth of the Río de la Plata of the Riachuelo, the name by which the Matanza River is best known. It was there that Pedro de Mendoza entered in 1536 to found Buenos Aires.
Caminito Boulevard is of high tourist interest, mainly because of its links with tango, the musical genre that is a symbol of the city. There the composer Juan De Dios Filiberto composed the music for the immortal piece Caminito, which gives the place its name. The pedestrian street is lined with works of art.
It is one of the few neighborhoods in the world where tourists go for its cemetery, a cultural icon of Buenos Aires. It was designed in the 19th century by the neoclassical architect and French engineer Prósper Catelin and works in what used to be the garden of the barefoot recoletos convent, hence the name of the elegant suburb.
The list of personalities buried in the place would be endless. To walk among the mausoleums through the streets of the cemetery, in aesthetic terms, is to visit a small-scale sample of the best of European and Argentine architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries.
But Recoleta is not just the cemetery. There are also the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Library, several university faculties and other places of interest.
13. La Bombonera
Alberto José Armando was a notable leader of Argentine soccer, but how many people outside the country know the Alberto J. Armando stadium? Instead, almost everyone has heard of the La Bombonera stadium, possibly the most popular and noisiest soccer arena in the sport.
Great world football luminaries such as Pelé, Diego Maradona, Andrés Iniesta and Thierry Henry, have said that playing at La Bombonera is different. The name does not derive from the fans being crammed like chocolates in a box, which they are. When Viktor Sulcic was designing it, a friend gave him a box of chocolates shaped very similar to the project that the architect had on the drawing board.
It is owned by the Boca Juniors Club, of course it is in the La Boca neighborhood and we wish you the best of luck if you want to get a ticket to a game. Most likely you have to settle for the tourist route.
14. Tender meat and mate!
Argentine meat is the most tender and delicious in the world because the cattle are raised in the open air, eating only fresh grass and with enough space to walk. Buenos Aires is brimming with places where you can enjoy an exquisite cut, roasted with a good charcoal. We can already imagine you undecided between roast strips, narrow steak, popcorn, matambre, rump tail and other delicious options. As contours you can order a chestnut puree and a salad prepared with fresh vegetables from the Argentine countryside. A Mendoza wine will pair perfectly and to close, the national drink, a mate.
15. Let’s dance tango!
The four great Argentine passions are soccer, meat, mate and tango, the musical genre and dance that is the aesthetic symbol of the country. Tango is a cultural expression from the River Plate, so it is the son of Argentina and Uruguay, and since 2009 it has been an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, at the joint request of Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
The composers of the lyrics and music of the great tangos, as well as their interpreters, are idols of Argentine popular culture and it is essential to mention Carlos Gardel, the singer who internationalized the genre. The essential musical instrument to play it is the bandoneon.
In Buenos Aires there are places where you can spend some time at full throttle, watching tangos dance with a drink in front of you. Already with a couple of drinks, perhaps you dare to dance the bars of Balada para un loco or Por una cabeza. It is also common to run into street dancers.
Did you like the walk through Buenos Aires? Did you admire its monuments and enjoy its gastronomy? Were you able to attend a classic Boca – River? Did you dance El firulete? Do not? Then we will have to return to La Reina del Plata!