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The Barrios of Buenos Aires


Buenos Aires is one of the world’s great cities and the 3rd largest in South America. Like all great cities it has its grand avenues, plazas, fountains and parks; so much so that it is often referred to as the “Paris of South America”. But like other melting pot cities it is a city of neighborhoods some rich some less so but each one having something unique to attract the immigrants who live there and the visitors who explore there.

The city is made up 48 Barrios or neighborhoods some totally commercial and some totally residential. For the leisure visitor however there are a few that offer unique glimpses into the soul of the city. These discoveries are best made on foot since walking the streets allows you to absorb the atmosphere and rhythm of the neighborhood.  While not inclusive the following provides a snapshot of key areas.

La Boca has a strong European flavor because of the many immigrants from Genoa. It is situated near the old port and its main attraction for visitors is Caminito a pedestrian street lined with colorful houses, tango clubs and Italian Trattorias

San Telmo is the oldest barrio and was primarily industrial in its early years. From 1875 to 1930, British, Galician, Italian and Russian immigrants gave it a cosmopolitan ambiance. Today it is known for its cobblestone streets, cafes, tango parlors and antique shops and an ongoing antique fair in the main public square.

Palermo is the largest barrio and has over time created sub areas. Alto Palermo is the main shopping hub. Palermo Viejo , the oldest part of the area hosts a community of immigrants from Poland, Armenia, Ukraine and Lebanon and was home to Che Guevara at one time. It is known for its more historic Spanish style of architecture. Palermo Soho like its New York counterpart is bohemian with boutiques, bars and fashion houses. Lastly, while not a true neighborhood, Bosque de Palermo is a large park based on the Bois de Boulogne in Paris with a large lake and landscaped promenades.

Recoleta is an upscale residential neighborhood not unlike London’s Mayfair. It is home to old family mansions, foreign embassies and luxury hotels. It greatest point of interest for visitors is its cemetery which is the final resting place of Eva Peron,” Evita”

Retiro is the location of high end shopping establishments such as Patio Bullrich. From 1914 to 1998 it was also home to Harrods Buenos Aires the only international branch of the London store. There are also many luxury hotels in the area. Retiro, Palermo and Recoleta are adjoining and together they make up the upscale enclave known as Barrio Norte

Puerto Madero is located along the River Plate waterfront and is the largest urban renewal project in the city’s history and resembles the rebirth of London’s docklands area including Canary Wharf. With office buildings, restaurants, cinemas and apartments it could also be compared to the Embarcadero in San Francisco or South Street Seaport in New York.

An exploration of some or all of these areas, especially with a knowledgeable guide will allow you to became a “porteno” in spirit if not in reality