What do you get when you combine relaxed European charm with majestic architecture, riotous nightlife, sultry weather and a dramatic, passionate history? You get a city that Lonely Planet calls an “elegant, seductive place with a ragged edge, laced with old-world languor and yet full of contemporary attitude.” You can’t argue with that. This month, we’re putting the very deserving Buenos Aires in the spotlight.
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History and architecture
Buenos Aires is split by a fairly obvious discrepancy in wealth that is impossible to ignore; the grandeur of barrios like La Recoleta, with their huge homes and wealthy inhabitants, contrast to the undeniable poverty of its poorer areas. The city has a long and varied history that is reflected in its very streets. You should certainly pay a visit to the Cementerio de la Recoleta, the cemetary where the most famous and lauded Argentineans, including Eva Peron, otherwise known as Evita, are buried. The cemetary is wonderfully elaborate; there are mausoleums replicating chapels, pyramids and imposing Greek temples.
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The Teatro Colon is also a must-see spot: as one of the top opera houses in the world, the lavish, seven-floor Italianate chunk of classical architecture is fabulous to look at, and if you love opera, you’ll appreciate the unrivalled acoustics! It’s also worth having a stroll down the Calle Florida – lovers of architecture will go into paroxysms over the opulent, early 20th-century buildings that line this mile-long pedestrian mall.
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Pay a visit to El viejo Almacen, Argentina’s most famous tango club housed in a 200 year old building. Built in 1798, it started out as a general store and then converted into a hospital. In the early 1900s, the building was transformed into a tango bar. Tango star Edmundo Rivero bought it in 1969 and Friday and Saturday nights will see it packed to the rafters with fabulous types dancing their socks off, drinking cocktails and dancing with far greater vigour and skill than us English clodhoppers could ever hope to muster. The Confiteria Ideal is also a great spot for tango, and has the added benefit of giving lessons, so you can work out how to transform that second left foot.
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One of the most exciting experiences you can have in Buenos Aires is to go and see the Boca’s play; Maradonas beloved team inspire some of the most fervent examples of fan-dom in the world, and going to see a game an undoubtably thrilling experience. If you fancy getting out of the city, head forty-five minutes from downtown to the Tigre, an almost unspoilt subtropical delta of forested islands and pretty waterways. Pack your picnic basket, fill it with Argentinian wine and go have a ball in the forest!
Image by Alex.E.Proimos