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Buenos Aires - Capital of Argentina

Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo.

Located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata and is home to around 13 million inhabitants.

The city of Buenos Aires was first established as Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre ("City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds") on 2 February 1536 by a Spanish expedition led by Pedro de Mendoza.

Tango music's birthplace is in Argentina. Its sensual dance moves were not seen as respectable until adopted by the Parisian high society in the 1920s, and then all over the world.

The National Day of Tango is celebrated on December 11, the birthday of two tango legends, Carlos Gardel and Julio De Caro.

Modern Buenos Aires has the charm of an old slightly crumbling and cobble paved European city but the hustle and bustle of a large Americas city.

If architecture is not your thing then you'll rejoice in the huge range of food here, both high-class and street food, with new restaurants opening up weekly.

Top 5 things to do in Buenos Aires

Plaza de Mayo

Plaza de Mayo (May Square) is the main square in downtown Buenos Aires and was the main focal point of the 1810 revolution that lead to Argentina's independence.

The modern plaza took form when, in 1884, the colonnade separating the Plaza de la Victoria and the Plaza del Fuerte was demolished. Its origins, however, can be traced back to Juan de Garay's foundation of Buenos Aires itself, in 1580.

Throughout the history of Buenos Aires it has been the scene of political demonstrations, some peaceful and others not so.

Today, Plaza de Mayo continues to be an indispensable tourist attraction for those who visit Buenos Aires and is a great central meeting point as several of the city's major landmarks are located around the Plaza; the Casa Rosada (federal government), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the May Pyramid and City Hall.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Located in the city centre, overlooking Plaza de Mayo, the Metropolitan Cathedral has been rebuilt several times since its humble origins in the 16th century.

When Buenos Aires was founded in 1580, part of a block facing the main square was reserved for the major church of the town and this is the same location where the current cathedral building now stands.

On the night of May 23, 1752, the nave of the cathedral collapsed. The only portions still standing were the façade and towers, but the rest of the building needed to be completely rebuilt.

After successive remodelling construction of the current façade began in the early 19th century being completed in 1863.

Originally the interior was only decorated with altarpieces, but at the end of the 19th century the walls and ceilings of the church were decorated with frescoes depicting biblical scenes.

The cathedral still has some elements dating from colonial times. The most important is the main gilt wood altarpiece in Rococo style, dating from 1785.

In 1880, the remains of General José de San Martín were brought from France and placed in a mausoleum, reachable from the right aisle of the church.

Japanese Gardens

The Japanese Garden is a tranquil escape from the fast pace of urban life in Buenos Aires.

It sits on the location of a smaller garden that was demolished to make way for the current one.

Run by the Japanese Cultural Society, when the gardens were completed in 1967, they were inaugurated on a State visit to Argentina by then-Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko of Japan.

Its entrance on Figueroa Alcorta Avenue leads to the gardens, a cultural centre, restaurant, a greenhouse known for its collection of bonsai trees and a gift shop featuring an extensive selection of Asian garden seeds, as well as craft work made by artisans on the grounds.

The central lake is crossed by the Divine Bridge, traditionally representing entry into Heaven and by the Truncated Bridge, leading to an island where Japanese medicinal herbs are grown.

A Japanese Buddhist Temple is maintained on the grounds and the Institute also hosts regular cultural activities for the general public.

Avenida 9 de Julio

Avenida 9 de Julio runs roughly one kilometre to the west of the Río de la Plata waterfront, from the Retiro district in the north to Constitución station in the south.

Its name honors Argentina's Independence Day, July 9, 1816.

The avenue was first planned in 1888 with the name of Ayohuma; but, long opposed by affected landlords and residents, work did not start until 1935.

To construct the avenue, city authorities smashed a brutal route through the centre of the city, demolishing 60,000 sq metres of city real estate and displacing thousands of residents to complete its first section. 

The width of the avenue spans an entire city block (140m) and has six lanes in each direction making a bit of a mare for pedestrians to cross as there are no over or under passes.

Modelled on the French Champs Elysée the French Embassy sits at the northern end and a 70m high needle monument sits in the middle to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding.

Contrast this with the poorer buildings at the southern end of the avenue which are starting to fall into disrepair.

Galerias Pacifico

The Galerías Pacífico shopping centre is located in the city centre at the intersection of Florida Street and Córdoba Avenue.

The building was designed in 1889 to accommodate a shop called the Argentine Bon Marché, modelled on the Le Bon Marché in Paris.

In 1896 part of the building was transformed into the first home for the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and in 1908 the British-owned Buenos Aires and Pacific railway company acquired part of the building for offices.

The company's name derived from the fact that its intention was to operate a train service linking Buenos Aires and Valparaíso in Chile, thereby giving access to the Pacific Ocean. From that time onwards the building became known as Edificio Pacífico.

In 1989 it was declared a national historic monument and after having been abandoned for years, the building was renovated and re-opened in 1991 as the shopping arcade Galerías Pacífico.

The central sections cupola is elegantly decorated by frescos from Argentine artists.

Currently the mall houses many high-end stores, such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, and La Martina, among others.

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Other Places To Visit

If you have some extra time in the city, some other worthwhile places to visit are:

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Temperature & Rainfall Guide for Buenos Aires

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Great Airfare Deals to Buenos Aires

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