Monday, January 20, 2014

Barrios (Neighborhoods) of Buenos Aires

article from January 19, 2011
by Julie R Butler

Buenos Aires is big and noisy and not the place for people who are not fond of big, noisy cities (that would be us). But then there are those who love all of the culture, the history, the accessibility, the vibrancy of the world’s biggest cities, and Buenis Aires has it all and more.

In describing the various barrios, or neighborhoods, suffice it to say that restaurants abound everywhere in this city, each barrio featuring its own characteristic selection. Argentines eat two main meals every day, the midday meal being the main event, but the late dinner may also be sizeable, as well. These are important family and social events that are expected to be long, drawn out, lingering affairs, with the service matching the relaxed pace and waiters seeming to be specially trained in the art of eye-contact avoidance – strangely, especially when it comes time to pay up!

Here are the most famous barrios:

Microcentro: The heart and soul of a nation, this is home to the government buildings, the grandest architecture, the historic cafés, restaurants, and clubs that are over a hundred years old, and the symbolic Obelisco that is framed by one of the world’s widest boulevards.

Tribunales: This theater district is home to the magnificent Palacio de Justicia and the equally magnificent opera house, Teatro Colón, among other prominent cultural treasures.

San Thelmo: Brimming with antiques and wrought iron, cobblestones and colonial architecture, its charm has established it as a center for expats and travelers of all persuasions.

La Boca: This is a working-class neighborhood that has its dangers, yet its bright colors and big character draw anyone who wants to experience this authentic part of Argentine culture.

Palermo: A trendy, upscale residential area that offers everything great about big-city living – parks, museums, restaurants, bars, and boutiques

Recoleta: Even more upscale, Recoleta is most famous for its incredible cemetery for the rich and famous.

Belgrano: Known as a more peaceful, park-filled, pleasant residential barrio.

Almargo: This middle-class neighborhood, off the tourist track, is a good place to go for a more typical Argentine atmosphere.

Boedo: The historic porteño lifestyle is alive and well in this major tango and cultural center.

Congreso: This area surrounding the Palacio del Congreso is a densely populated section characterized by busy streets running between a sea of high-rises, all commerce, all the time.

Puerto Madero: The old port has been re-vamped, the redbrick warehouses turned into art studios, shops, and restaurants that charge for the view across to the new modern architecture that is springing up like daisies. A stroll along the waterfront or through the nearby wildlife preserve offers pleasant respite from the hectic pace of the streets of BsAs.

Retiro: This neighborhood, where both the classic main train station and the main bus station are located, is synonymous with ritz, unless you accidentally wander into the shantytown behind the train station.

For more on Buenos Aires, see (all sites current as of December 2013):
Landing Pad BA

[All photos by Jamie Douglas, Julie R Butler]

Julie R Butler is a writer, journalist, editor, and author of several books, including Nine Months in Uruguay and No Stranger To Strange Lands (click here for more info). She is a contributor to Speakout at Truthout.org, and her current blog is Connectively Speaking.
email: julierbutler [at] yahoo [dot] com, Twitter: @JulieRButler