ABOUT ARGENTINA

The name Argentina comes from the Latin term “argentum”, which means silver. The origin of this name goes back to the first voyages made by the Spanish conquerors to the Río de la Plata . The survivors of the shipwrecked expedition mounted by Juan Díaz de Solís found indigenous people in the region who gave them silver objects as presents. The news about the legendary Sierra del Plata - a mountain rich in silver - reached Spain around 1524. As from this date, the Portuguese named the river of Solís, Río de la Plata (River of Silver). Two years later the Spanish used the same name. The National Constitution adopted in 1853 included the name “República Argentina” (Argentine Republic) among the official names to designate the government and the country’s territory.

 
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Location

The City of Buenos Aires is the capital of the Argentine Republic and is located in the southern hemisphere, latitude 34º 36’ and longitude 58º 26’. The city extends on a plain and has 202 square kilometers (78.3 sq miles). Approximately 3 million people live in this city. Including the metropolitan area, the total population of Buenos Aires is above ten millions, making it one of the 10 most populated urban centers in the world.

The Río de la Plata (Silver River) and the Riachuelo are the natural borders of the city on the east and south, respectively. The rest of the metropolitan perimeter is surrounded by the General Paz Avenue from north to west. This avenue provides a fast connection between the city and the Greater Buenos Aires, a densely populated area with important business and industrial activity.

Weather

The climate of Buenos Aires is mild all year round. The mean annual temperature is 18º C (64.4º F), making extremely hot and cold days very infrequent. Thus, visitors can enjoy walking around the city in any season.
July is the coldest month. Although frosts are rare, a woolen coat, a jacket or an overcoat and a scarf will be required when going out during winter. In winter, cold is moderate during the day, but temperature considerably drops at night.
In summer, the weather is hot and humid. Mornings are warm and during midday and the first hours of the afternoon, the temperature rises. At night, temperature goes down slightly, so people may wear light clothes; coats are not needed.

Rains are more frequent in autumn and spring (from March to June and from September to December, respectively). They are mild or last a short time, thus activities are not hampered and people usually go out with an umbrella or a raincoat.

In the sunny days of autumn and spring, mornings are slightly cold; the temperature rises at midday and drops again at night.

History

Buenos Aires was founded twice. The first foundation was in 1536. Don Pedro de Mendoza, a Spanish colonizer, established the first settlement. He named it Ciudad del Espíritu Santo y Puerto Santa María del Buen Ayre. The second, and final, foundation was in 1580. Juan de Garay called the site Ciudad de Trinidad.

In the 19th. century, the port was the arrival point for the great migratory wave promoted by the Argentine State to populate the nation. Spanish, Italian, Syrian-Lebanese, Polish and Russian immigrants provided Buenos Aires with the cultural eclecticism that is so characteristic of the city.
During the 20th. century, successive immigrations - from the provinces, other Latin American countries and Eastern countries – completed the picture of Buenos Aires as a cosmopolitan city in which people with different cultures and religions live together.

Restaurants & Food

The city of Buenos Aires holds more than 3,500 food houses, ranging from the most sophisticated traditional and ethnic restaurants to bars, pubs and international chains of fast food restaurants. The classical parrillas offering Argentine roasted meat abound, even in the sidewalks.

Many restaurants exhibit the ruedo through their windows: a circle made of bricks or stones with a fire burning in the middle and several iron crosses planted around it. Beef ribbons, goats and lambs fixed to the crosses are roasted very slowly by the fire.

Hours: In Buenos Aires, people usually have dinner after 10 pm, and some restaurants are open until dawn. While in Paris, New York or London restaurants are crowded at about 8:30 pm, this generally happens in Buenos Aires after 11 pm.
Most of them, are open every day, for lunch and dinner, although on Mondays, they may be closed. You should better make a call in advance.

Buenos Aires is just the place to taste all kind of meals. Some neighborhoods are a typical choice when you decide to have a good meal.
Puerto Madero, in the remodeled port docks, has the most exclusive restaurants, Palermo, in the surroundings of Serrano square, and Palermo Hollywood and Las Cañitas, are the fashionable gastronomic places. They offer meals from different countries of the world together with the latest trend in ambiance – a combination that mixes the minimalist style with extravagant and traditional dishes, jazz and electronic music. Corrientes avenue is the ideal place to taste an excellent pizza.

Beef: the top-notch quality of Argentine beef is known all over the world. Cow sweetbreads, small intestines and blood sausages are also delicious when enjoying the asado.

Wines: the Argentine wines are renowned throughout the region, particularly the red ones. Varietal wines coming from the Province of Mendoza are outstanding. The best champagne of the country is also produced there.
The wines of the finest Argentine wineries can be found in the restaurants at Recoleta, Palermo Soho, Las Cañitas, Puerto Madero and Retiro neighborhoods.

Fish: Hake, brótola, flatfish, bass (croaker), sea bream: fine and delicious varieties. The pejerrey is actually criollo; it can only be found in the Argentine maritime coasts, or mountain or plain rivers.

Pastas: Italian food is widely spread. The chefs’ creativity outstands with the ample variety of sauces and fillings (fish, shellfish, mushrooms, gourd).
In addition, eating pasta is a tradition among Argentine families gathering for lunch on Sundays.

Pizza: It is prepared al molde (baked in a pizza pan) or a la piedra (baked placing a stone, tile or similar in the oven floor); you may eat it with knife and fork or with the hand. Usually, the delicious triangle of pizza is eaten accompanied with fainá. Nearly all of the most famous pizza restaurants are located in Corrientes street. There are also new and stylish restaurants where you can find less traditional recipes of pizza.

A local food you should also try is the "empanada", a sort of small pie filled with different stuffings – minced beef, onion, sweet peppers, raisins and hard-boiled eggs; vegetables; humita (ground corn and spices) and hundreds of other fillings. They may be hot or mild; fried or baked. The most traditional ones are beef empanadas. You eat them with the hand and drink an excellent red wine as accompaniment.
Each Argentine region prides on its distinctive empanadas recipe. Thus, the tourist will see a wide variety of offers: empanadas salteñas, tucumanas and many others.

Moving Around in Buenos Aires

We suggest using cabs or the subway.

Taxis (cabs): they can be requested by phone or you may call them on the street. Radiotaxis (provided with radio systems) are considered safer. There is a great number of taxis in the city – getting a taxi near the tourist areas is easy at any time of day or night. Usually, you will wait for no longer than a few minutes.
Taxis can be easily recognized by their colors – black and yellow. In addition, a red light on the taximeter indicates that they are available.

Subte (Subway): The five subway lines are connected with the main avenues and railway and bus stations, and converge upon downtown, the main tourist and hotel area.
Maps showing the subway lines in different colors may be obtained at the ticket offices located in every station. Information boards showing each line routes and transfer stations between lines are available in all stations. These connections that allow passengers to use more than one line are called “combinación”.

The service runs Mondays through Saturdays, from 5 am to 10 pm, and Sundays and holidays from 8 am to 10 pm.

Culture

The city offers traditional tours and secret places. The Colón Theatre and small experimental theaters. Old book stores and new cultural centers. More than one hundred museums. Handicraft fairs and modern shopping malls. Historic cafés. Tango, milonga. Parks. Bars to enjoy the first and last drink of the night.

Consult the special supplement Cultura BA of the newspaper Página 12 for information on tourist and cultural offer. This supplement is given for free in all information centers.

Green signs with the City’s emblem are posted on sidewalks and provide information on shows organized by the Culture Secretariat. These are first-rate shows, with free admittance or very low fees.

The information lists theaters, museums or cultural centers, including their telephones and e-mail addresses.

Another option is to go to or call any of the tourist information centers of the city.

Museums: Buenos Aires offers their people and the tourists important museums of national and international art as well as football museums, shoes museums, puppets museums, costumes museums, among others.

One of the newest museums founded in the city is Malba: Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. This museum exhibits artworks made by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Tarsilia do Amaral, Wilfredo Lam and the main Argentine artists.

The Evita Museum possesses testimonies of this emblematic figure of the Argentine history. Her full name was María Eva Duarte.

In Retiro, the Fernández Blanco Museum is located at the Noel Palace. This building has a typical neoclassical style of the 20’s. This museum exhibits one of the major silverware collections in the world that dates from colonial times.

The Spanish art, mainly of centuries 16º and 17º, is gathered at the Larreta Museum. The Larreta Museum is located in an old country house in Belgrano neighborhood with an Andalusian style garden of 7,000 square meters.

The Argentine popular art can be seen at the José Hernández Museum. This museum collection includes more than 8,000 art objects which represents the old and contemporaneous Argentine handcrafts.

Art: Argentine masters as well as worldwide exhibitors of different vanguards are always present within the art circuit in Buenos Aires city. Spaces aimed at the plastic art offer a wide range of artists that may go from Berni, Castagnino and Xul Solar to Francis Bacon and Frank Stella.

Guillermo Kuitca, Alfredo Prior and Rómulo Maccio are artists of international renown. They not only have sold their works all over the world but also their works are part of permanent collections at the most important museums.

Quinquela, Noé, Alonso, De la Vega, Gorriarena, Roux, Minuji, Carpani, Marcos López and Coppola are also great artists.

At the city, you always can enjoy exhibitions of paintings, photographs, sculptures, digital art and installations. You can also find art works in public spaces, those that may go from classic sculptures to murals of tango motives for example in Caminito (La Boca) and along Jean Jeaurés alley (Abasto).

Tango

Buenos Aires is the birthplace and the world capital of tango, a rhythm that was created by the banks of the Río de la Plata, at the end of the 19th century, as a fusion of European and African music.

The tango is manifested in the lyrics - many of the words used in the tango come from lunfardo (porteños’ slang); in the music - the bandoneón provided the music from the Río de la Plata with that melancholic and somewhat sullen sound that characterizes tango today; and in the dance - tango classes last between one and two hours. It is ideal to take four or five lessons. From the first lesson, teachers train beginners in the mastering of the basic steps: eight simple movements that may be learned in a few hours.

Buenos Aires is full of tango houses with live orchestras and dancers. The most important places that offer live shows usually include dinner (with options in Argentine beef or international menus). Buenos Aires tours and tango tours are available.

You may also go to the milongas, places where you dance tango. Many of them organize classes – given by specialized teachers – before the dancing. For beginners and more experienced dancers, the offer includes group or individual classes. Tango, milonga or vals.

Useful information for attending milongas:

At what time
Many dancing couples share the milonga dance floor. To dance without bumping into each other, you should choose – either you get there early or leave late.

What to wear
It is necessary to have some of the following elements of the basic

Tango Kit
An extra T-shirt or shirt, hairdressing (for a retouch), an extra pair of socks, make up (for a retouch), dancing shoes (in a bag), a pair of heelless shoes (to rest), talcum powder for the soles (to avoid slipping).

For a man: How to invite a woman to dance
The milonguero has two options:
- Cabeceo (nodding). The man and the woman look at each other, and only if she continues to stare him out, he will very delicately nod to her.
- The boldest method: the milonguero approaches the table where the woman chosen is sitting and invites her to dance.

For a woman: What to do to be invited to dance
First, you’ve got to put on your dancing shoes. Then, sit looking at the dance floor with your legs slightly extended so that a man may stumble on your feet. This is how the encounter (and invitation) occurs.


Shopping

The city has several shopping circuits, each offering different articles: antiques in San Telmo, books in Corrientes Avenue, leather items in Retiro neighborhood, souvenirs in La Boca. The avant-garde in objects, clothes and decorative elements is in Palermo Viejo neighborhood.

Buenos Aires offers extended shopping hours. The main shopping malls – where you may buy the most renowned national and international articles – are open until 10 pm.
In Las Cañitas, Palermo Viejo, Palermo Hollywood, Barrio Norte and San Telmo, you may also shop until late at night: many shops close near midnight. These are circuits to buy clothes, shoes, accessories and gifts. There are also beauty parlors and art galleries.

Shoppers looking for bargains (books and music, mainly) may browse in remainders tables in bookstores located in Corrientes Avenue (from Cerrito street to Callao Avenue) and Av. de Mayo (from Bolívar street to Uruguay street).

Shopping malls offer, in addition to stores, restaurants and movie theater complexes.

Sanitary Information

Vaccination is neither obligatory nor necessary to visit Buenos Aires since the city is safe from the sanitary viewpoint. The public water supply is reliable. Public hospitals - available for tourists – offer a 24-hour emergency service, without charge. Argentine physicians are considered excellent professionals worldwide.
The ambulance emergency service (SAME) is also for free.


Safety Information

Buenos Aires is a safe city, but as in any other big city in the world, the tourist should take some precautions. For example, avoid leaving your purse or bag hanging from chairs in public places, as well as walking at night along poorly lit areas.

Throughout the whole city, especially all tourist areas, the Urban Guard is at hand so as to inform, help and take care of people in risky or emergency situations.
This official body works in coordination with the security forces, firemen, medical urgency service and some other State organisms.
The urban guard performs their tasks throughout Buenos Aires city 24 hours a day during the whole year.

There is also a tourist police station headquarters which receives any formal complaints from tourists in cases of offenses, thefts, petty steal, losses, whereabouts and failed meetings.
It also works on crime prevention. You can here also receive help in the case of extraordinary procedures before embassies or consulates.

You will get information from people speaking in English, Italian, French, Portuguese, Ukrainian and Japanese. Address: Avenida Corrientes 436
telephone: 0800 999 5000 / 4346 5748

 

Go to > Facts about Argentina's Geography, People, Government and Economy


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