18 September, 2014

Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Most everybody who’s traveled or even researched a trip to the continent has probably come across the following claim—Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America. Is this true?  And if so, what does it even mean?

The city is certainly one of the most “European” found anywhere in the Americas.  Studying its wide avenues, cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafés, and myriad cultural venues, it’s easy to imagine oneself in some Old World capital.  That being said, this cosmopolitan city certainly doesn't strive to mimic the City of Light—porteños, as city residents are known, are proud of a culture that is all their own.

Tango in the Streets, Buenos Aires
Perhaps, for example, you've heard of the tango?  This world-famous dance style was born in Buenos Aires during the late-20th century and has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon.  The dance, which seems to bridge the gap between European style and Latin American passion, is still widely-practiced by porteños both young and old.  Whether your goal is to learn, find another master as a dance partner, or simply sit back and observe, Buenos Aires is the place to go.

Gaucho and Horse, Argentina
You surely won’t spend all your time in Buenos Aires dancing, however—not with everything else the city has to offer.  The city’s Teatro Colón is considered among the world’s finest venues for live music, offering performances ranging from opera to symphonies and beyond.  For more of that Parisian flair so often attributed to the city, check out the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Fine Arts Museum), whose collection of European art is sometimes considered the finest outside of the continent itself.  For outdoor experiences, head to one of the many city squares or to Recoleta Cemetary, whose massive mausoleums and graves are intricately and sometimes even bizarrely decorated—an experience that cannot really be summed up in words.

Though Buenos Aires is without a doubt the center of Argentine culture, traveling outside the capital can also give you a fine window into what certain critics might call the “true” culture of the country—for example, the gaucho, the South American cousin of the cowboy, is a national symbol and an important source of pride for Argentinians.  At the end of the day, no matter where you go in Argentina, you are sure to enjoy the country’s warm and nuanced culture in one way or another!

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