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Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a vibrant city full of life and passion. It emits more the feeling of a Southern European city which is no surprise as the roots of many "porteños" (citizens of the city) are from the "Old World".

There are many parks that make up for the busy streets. You can enjoy museums, restaurants, splendid monuments and, of course, tango-shows.

City Highlights

La Casa Rosada

Plaza de Mayo is the heart of Buenos Aires. There you'll find important landmarks such as the historical Cabildo (the city council during the colonial era), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the town hall and La Casa Rosada.

La Casa Rosada (The Pink House), officially known as the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), is the official seat of the Executive Branch of the government of Argentina. Plaza de Mayo has been a silent witness of many emotional and heart-breaking moments in history.

Buenos Aires hosts many parks that provide a welcome escape from the busy streets. Parque 3 de Febrero, one of the biggest parks, begins in Palermo and runs northward to the city limits. In the surroundings you can find besides the zoo and a planetarium also some of the more interesting places to stop and relax: an Andalusian patio, a Danish rose garden and a Japanese pavilion with a lake. Several museums are in walking distance of the Parque 3 de Febrero.

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The landmark of Buenos Aires is without doubt the enormous Obelisk at the intersection of 9 de Julio and Corrientes avenues. The obelisk was built in May 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city. It is located in the center of the Plaza de la República (Republic Square), the spot where the Argentinean flag was flown for the first time in Buenos Aires.

Its total height is 67 meters (219 feet) and its base area is 49 sq meters (54 sq yards). This area is also the place if shopping is an addiction that should be entertained. When you're out of "pesos" you can visit the house of author Jorge Luis Borges in the neighborhood.

Another option is the splendid pedestrian street Calle Florida for its boutiques and shopping malls but the mile long promenade is also a must for anyone interested in architecture. An itinerary that ends in leafy Plaza San Martín, named in honor of Argentina's national hero, passes banks, department stores and clubs built during the early years of the 20th century.

San Telmo, the oldest barrio (neighborhood) of Buenos Aires, originally housed the city's elite. When yellow fever struck in the 1870s -- aggravated by substandard conditions in the area -- the aristocrats moved north. Poor immigrants soon filled the neighborhood and the houses were converted to tenements, called conventillos. In 1970, the city passed regulations to restore some of San Telmo's architectural landmarks.

Today it's a colorful, semi-bohemian area dotted with antique shops, colonial architecture and many old churches (e.g., San Pedro Telmo). Some of the streets are still paved with the original cobblestones. The best time to visit is Sunday.

The Plaza Dorrego, the heart of the neighborhood, is then the scene of a flea market and the streets are filled with performers such as jugglers and tango dancers. Tango aficionados can find the oldest and best known tango cafes such as El Viejo Almacén, Michelangelo, La Casa Blanca and La Casa Rosada in San Telmo.

The latest big development project has been Puerto Madero. It is lined with converted old red brick warehouses on the dock side. You can escape the city for awhile in the nearby Nature Reserve (Reserva Ecológica).

La Boca and El Caminito La Boca is Buenos Aires most colorful barrio. It was built by Italian immigrants along the Riachuelo, a sinuous waterway lined with meat packing plants and warehouses.

"El Caminito", made famous by tango legend Carlos Gardel, is a must see when you travel in Argentina (even if you're not a tango aficionado).

The mystique of Eva Perón persists, more than 50 years after her death. The Peronist faithful still flock to her grave in La Recoleta Cemetery. Some years ago a new place of pilgrimage opened its doors: the Evita Museum which tells the story of her life and death and features memorabilia from her careers as actress and political idol.

Attractions of Buenos Aires

La Boca
Known as the birthplace of the tango, this one-time shipyard has a famous walkway, the Caminito, where tango dancers perform and artists exhibit their work.

San Telmo
Architectural landmarks in the city’s oldest neighborhood have been restored, and this revitalized area is distinctly artistic, with cafes, antique shops, cobblestone streets and lots of artists and dancers.

This fashionable, upscale neighborhood is lined with cafes, boutiques and galleries and morphs into a street fair on weekends.

Cementerio de la Recoleta
The most celebrated Argentineans, including Eva Peron and her family, are buried at this elaborate cemetery, where mausoleums replicate chapels, pyramids and Greek temples.

Palermo Viejo
Popular for daytime picnics, nature walks and evening strolls, this auspicious neighborhood is home to a number of lush gardens and a zoo.

Teatro Colon
One of the top opera houses in the world, this lavish, seven-floor Italianate building has superb acoustics for listening to the fine performers that grace its stage.

Plaza Dorrego
A lively fair with performers and street vendors takes place every Sunday at the second oldest square in the city.

Calle Florida
Architecture buffs will love the opulent, early 20th-century buildings that line this mile-long pedestrian mall, popular for its gem, leather and fur stores.

Tango dancers perform in Buenos Aires

Casa Rosada
The government’s executive branch is housed in this building, a strange mix of various architectural styles, perhaps best known for the balcony from which Evita rallied the working class crowds.

Puerto Madero
By day, this riverfront area is a booming business and shopping district and by night, a hip neighborhood with pricey restaurants and fashionable clubs.

Plaza de Mayo
The political center of the country, this famous plaza is the location of the well-known balcony of the Casa Rosada from which Eva Peron addressed adoring crowds of workers.

Plaza San Martin
A popular lunchtime respite for business folk, this lovely park is bordered by the San Martin Palace and the Plaza Hotel, and includes a huge monument to General Jose de San Martin.

Museo Historico Nacional
Housed in a former mansion, this museum highlights a series of battlefield paintings by artist Candido Lopez and tells the story of Argentine history through paintings and artifacts.

Museum of Latin America Art of Buenos AIres (MALBA)
This not-for-profit art museum and cultural center first opened its doors in 2001 with the mission to promote contemporary Latin American artists.

Catedral Metropolitana
This 1827 cathedral, a mixture of several architectural styles, houses the remains of Argentine Liberator General Jose de San Martin in a marble mausoleum.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
There’s no fee to enter this fine museum housing significant works of the European masters from pre-Renaissance days to the present and a vast collection of 19th- and 20th-century Argentine sculptures and paintings.

Colorful and traditional, this walkway in the La Boca area is dominated by tango dancers and artisans.

Jardin Japonés
A tranquil Zen garden complete with fish ponds and an arched bridge even offers a traditional tea house.

La Confitería Ideal
A sense of nostalgia pervades this aging but elegant club where the tango brings locals and tourists together. Afternoon lessons are a prelude to evening dance parties.

El Obelisco
The Obelisk has been a popular landmark and celebratory gathering place since it was built in 1936 to mark the spot where the nation’s flag was first flown.

Biblioteca Nacional
This huge, modern National Library stores a massive volume of books and offers a spectacular view of Buenos Aires from its reading rooms on the top two stories.

Academia Nacional de Tango
Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in tango at this academy, one of 18 locations.

Esquina Carlos Gardel
Named for the creator of the tango, this 1940s-style club provides a delicious dinner and superbly choreographed tango entertainment.

Basilica y Convento de San Francisco
Built in 1911 and rebuilt and refurbished in 1955, this impressive basilica contains an enormous tapestry and a 20,000 volume library.

Museo Evita
In this grand mansion, many fascinating items pay homage to Evita Peron, revered champion of the downtrodden Argentines. This museum was opened in 2002 upon Evita’s death.

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© Photograph "Two men in Buenos Aires" by Martin Vansteenkiste