With its wide boulevards, elegant architecture and rich European heritage, Buenos Aires is often called the “Paris of South America”, but the Argentinean capital has a distinct character all of its own, as we discover here…
Argentina's famous dance originated in the working class Buenos Aires neighbourhoods of La Boca and San Telmo in the 19th century, and it has since spread throughout the world. The bohemian attitude that gave birth to these intoxicating moves can still be felt in these neighbourhoods, where visitors can enjoy everything from low-key social “milongas” to professional choreographed shows.
Buenos Aires has long been famous for the quality of the steaks at its traditional “parrillas” (barbecue grill restaurants), but there are plenty of other dishes to catch a gourmand’s eye, from the tasty empanadas that are available on almost every street corner to the delicious ice cream that rivals Italian gelato, and the city’s amazing medialuna croissants, which are smaller and sweeter than the French classics.
Buenos Aires is home to one of the world's most hotly-contested football derbies – the renowned superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate, with the atmosphere at Boca’s iconic La Bombonera stadium unlike anything else in sport. Diego Maradona, one of the sport’s most celebrated players, was also born in the city and remains one of its favourite sons, having led Argentina to the FIFA World Cup title in 1986.
Street artists from all over the world pass through Buenos Aires, turning the city's streets into an open-air gallery, while local artists have also gained reputations abroad. The best neighbourhoods for street art are Palermo, Colegiales, Villa Crespo, Congreso, Barracas, Montserrat and La Boca.
Boasting a mixture of styles from neoclassical and Italian Renaissance to art deco and art nouveau, Buenos Aires is an architectural wonderland that never ceases to amaze. A stroll along the Avenida 9 de Julio – the world's widest avenue – is enough to make most jaws drop, with seven lanes in each direction and flanked on either side by grand buildings such as the Teatro Colón. And at the intersection with Avenida Corrientes sits the Plaza de la República, which is home to the 71-metre Obelisco de Buenos Aires – one of the city’s most famous monuments.
Buenos Aires has about 300 theatres, with shows ranging from independent underground productions to popular musicals. Among the most famous is the internationally acclaimed Teatro Colón, which is considered one of the best opera houses in the world and is renowned for its acoustics and architecture. Since opening in 1908, it has hosted some of the most important conductors, singers and dancers of the 20th century, including Igor Stravinsky, Herbert von Karajan, Daniel Barenboim, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Rudolf Nureyev, Julio Bocca and Maximiliano Guerra.
The Recoleta Cemetery
The city’s first public cemetery opened in 1822 and is now home to over 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, coffins and crypts that commemorate some of Argentina’s most celebrated sons and daughters – not least Eva Peron, the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. With shadowed walkways and towering marble mausoleums in a variety of architectural styles, the cemetery is an eerily beautiful and tranquil place, with over 90 of its tombs now listed as national historical monuments.