As the Monkey examined a few of the Argentine capital’s chief sights back in 2004, a picture of a confident city emerged. From world-class theaters to monumental government palaces, Buenos Aires doesn’t disappoint.
After overcoming its early colonial backwater status, Buenos Aires wasted no time blossoming into one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Americas. Immigration brought in a flood of people seeking a new life, people with new ideas in politics, arts, architecture, music, and other endeavors. The city expanded rapidly, but old traditions were never completely lost, lending the city a patchwork of cultures, churches, clubs, and cafés that kept one foot in the old worlds from whence they came. New groups continue to arrive, adding to the lifeblood of this enchanting, world-class city. Today, a third of Argentina’s population live within the greater Buenos Aires area, and the city plays a vital role in all aspects of Argentine existence.
In this photo, the Monkey stands before the Plaza del Congreso’s elaborate monument to the Republic. The green dome in the distance is that of the Congress.
The Monkey sits on a bench near two of Buenos Aires’ signature sights: el Obelisco and Avenida 9 de Julio. The 67-meter obelisk was erected by the military government in 1936, as a marker for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Buenos Aires. It stands on a traffic island at the intersection of Avenida Corrientes (Buenos Aires’ Broadway) and Avenida 9 de Julio. The latter is considered the world’s widest avenue, at 130 meters in width (or some 16 car lanes). It was created by razing countless city center blocks during the 1930s.
The stately Teatro Colón is one of Buenos Aires’ most revered cultural centers. Opened in 1908, the theater hosts opera, ballet, and orchestral performances. Its mammoth and opulent interior is said to have some of the finest acoustics in the world, and the Colón has attracted top performers since its earliest seasons, thus contributing to Buenos Aires’ cosmopolitan reputation. The Colón’s budget-priced, top balcony tickets to most events are a favorite high-brow outing for porteños of many income levels. Here, the Monkey prepares to reserve a box at the opera for a private night out.
Near the central synagogue (see this post) is the impressive, medieval Spanish-styled Teatro Cervantes. Built in 1921, this is Argentina’s national theater and hosts productions of serious new and classic stageworks. The Monkey is quite proud of this photo, as in addition to the pretty theater, he managed to capture a rare, traffic-less moment on Avenida Córdoba.
Immigrant architects brought the latest trends from Europe with them to Argentina, and the city has countless manifestations of the preferred French and Italian architectural styles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Homegrown architects, too, created dazzling buildings, employing the classical lines, high ceilings, balconies, cupolas, and graceful façades of the day. Here, the Monkey poses with some of the beautiful buildings that line elegant Avenida de Mayo.
The bulbous white tower in the distance is the Edificio Barolo, built by the Italian-Argentine architect Mario Palanti in 1923, supposedly on the site of a café where the most famous tango of all—“La Cumparsita”—was premiered in 1917. Palanti built a big brother for the Barolo in Montevideo, the Palacio Salvo.
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