- the monuments that have forged the city’s identity;
- the legendary stages that gave birth to Argentine culture;
- local museums with the most magnificent works of art;
- the neighborhoods that witnessed the city’s evolution and progress;
- the stadiums where soccer legends were born;
Organizing a trip to any destination can prove to be quite challenging, especially when time is of the essence. There are so many things to consider: passport, Visa requirements, documents you need to take, plane tickets, accommodation, transportation, currency exchange and rates, travel (and/or medical) insurance, credit and debit cards, packing…And these are only related to close destinations, where you speak the same language…
If you plan on traveling longer distances to non-English speaking countries, such as Buenos Aires, there are a few additional concerns you should consider: immunization, medical precautions, language barriers and how to overcome them, jetlag, what to eat (especially If you have a special diet such as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, for high blood pressure or diabetes), internet connection, roaming or available phone service, ATMs or banks to withdraw funds from…
And you still haven’t even considered the schedule! Planning activities in Buenos Aires can be quite vexing, especially when the Internet is your only source of information. There are different opinions as to must-see attractions and a vast range of activities to choose from. If you don’t know anyone who has traveled to that destination to help put together your travel plan, then you might find the whole process simply exhausting and even frustrating.
However, planning activities in Buenos Aires can turn out to be much easier than you expected.
Buenos Aires is an outstanding city, and deservedly one of the best destinations in Latin America. Its harmonious blend of tradition and modernity reflected in every building and monument, its cultural and ethnic diversity as well as eclectic cuisine, transforms this third-world city into an absolutely forward-thinking metropolis, and one you must visit at least once in your life.
If you plan on visiting Buenos Aires soon but do not really have enough time to see everything this incredible destination has to offer, don’t panic. Although it’s true that this destination offers a wide array of experiences you need time to discover.
Plan a short but rewarding journey into this architectural, cultural and culinary gem and discover its secrets with our guide! Take advantage of our tips, recommendations and suggestions to make this trip to Buenos Aires the best you’ll ever have!
The Origins of Buenos Aires
As with several other cities in the Latin American continent, the origins of Buenos Aires are deeply connected to European imperialism and colonization attempts undertaken by several nations during the course of 4 centuries, looking to expand their own empires across land and sea.
Buenos Aires actually experienced 2 very different founding moments. The first failed attempt was led by none other than Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza in 1536. The settlement was named “Ciudad del Espíritu Santo y Puerto de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre” (City of the Holy Spirit and Port of Our Lady Saint Mary of Good Air).
The settlement lasted only 5 years, mainly due to lack of resources and constant hostile attacks from indians. After decades of abandonment, the city was repopulated in 1580, when Juan de Garay arrived and named it “Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad” (City of the Holy Trinity). At the time, the city was used mostly for contraband, especially by the Portuguese, who were finally expelled in 1603.
In 1713, the English started shipping African slaves through the Buenos Aires port, activity that became incredibly profitable, drawing the attention of the Spanish crown, who in 1776 decided to use the city as a major trade port in the Americas, naming it the Virreinato del Río de la Plata.
Fun fact: Before receiving its actual name, the Río de la Plata (River of Silver or River Plate), the river had two names: Río Jordán (Jordan River) when it was first discovered in 1501, and Mar Dulce (Fresh Sea) in 1516.
Buenos Aires was constantly invaded by English and Danish pirates, as well as by French troops, yet it resisted. Despite falling into British hands in 1806, the city was regained by troops from Montevideo. It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that the need for independence began to gestate.
At the beginning of the 19th century Europe was in the midst of Napoleon’s imperialistic attacks, and at that time Spain was occupied by French troops, loosing power and influence over its colonies.
This temporary loss of power led to a revolution in the American colonies, and on July 9th, 1810, Buenos Aires’ city council declared the city’s independence from Spain, event that led to the birth of the Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata (United Provinces of the River Plate), with Buenos Aires at the center of such union.
Buenos Aires’ supremacy caused several conflicts among the provinces, which finally led to dissension amongst the ranks and as a result, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia became independent. Buenos Aires experienced great prosperity, mainly due to its premium cattle, meat-curing and leather export, until war broke with Brazil.
In 1829, Juan Manuel de Rosas rose to power, ravaging Buenos Aires’ democracy, politics and economy until 1842, when he was finally defeated by a union among the other provinces. Conflicts between provinces retarded unification for several years, and it wasn’t until 1862 that the nation was finally unified.
Fun fact: Argentina’s official denomination, the Argentine Republic, was used for the very first time in 1826.
Between 1864 and 1914, immigration waves led to a dramatic increase in population. Buenos Aires’ port received immigrants from all over the world, mostly Spanish, Italians, Syrian-Lebanese, Polish and Russians, all of which infused the city with new life and a diverse rich new culture.
The eclectic blend that is now Buenos Aires is due mainly to the combination of European and Latin American people, which immigrated to Argentina in the 20th century.
Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city, where different cultures, religions, traditions and rituals coexist harmoniously.
A few curiosities…
- Argentina as a country, and Buenos as its capital city, are extremely eclectic, not only in terms of population but also when it comes to natural resources. It is an extremely rich land, with different climates, types of soil, a wide variety of minerals as well as an astonishingly immense biodiversity.
- Argentina’s official religion is Catholic. Nonetheless, the country promotes freedom of cult all over the territory. Other popular religions in the area are Protestantism, Judaism, Islamism and Greek Orthodox.
- Argentina is the most visited country in South America.
- Argentinian wine is among the best in the world, particularly the wine that comes from Mendoza, the birthplace of wine in the country. Merlot is one the most popular vine nowadays.
- Did you know that Buenos Aires is the city with most bookstores per capita in the world? According to World Cities Culture Forum there are 25 bookstores every 100.000 people.
- Buenos Aires is also the city with the biggest number of soccer stadiums in the world. The two most popular stadiums nowadays are La Bombonera, belonging to Boca Juniors soccer team and El Monumental, owned by River Plate.
- The city has the oldest subway system in Latin America, inaugurated in 1913, and the fourth oldest in the whole continent, right behind New Yoro, Boston and Philadelphia.
- Tango was born in the first half of the 20th century, in San Telmo, La Boca and Barracas, at the time considered marginal neighborhoods. In the second half of that very same century, tango celebrities such as Carlos Gardel were the ones that shone a light over this musical genre and dance.
Regardless of the reason why you choose to visit this incredible city, Buenos Aires is definitely a must-see destination in Latin America, and one worth every praise. Discover everything this incredible city has to offer simply by downloading our FREE chapter of Top 10 Attractions in Buenos Aires.
Unveil the secrets behind its beautiful architecture, one-of-a-kind cuisine, eclectic culture and fall in love with the Latin American Paris. Begin your journey today.