complex, energetic, and seductive port city, which stretches south-to-north
along the Rio de la Plata, has been the gateway to Argentina for centuries.
Portenos, as the multinational people of Buenos Aires are known, possess
an elaborate and rich cultural identity. They value their European
heritage highly--Italian and German names outnumber Spanish, and the
lifestyle and architecture are markedly
more European than any other in South America. One of the world's finest
opera houses, the Teatro Colon, flourishes here on the plains alongside
the river. Portenos are intensely involved in the life and culture
of their city, and they will gladly share the secrets of Buenos Aires
if you lend an ear and relate your own stories in return.
Buenos Aires' physical structure is a mosaic as varied and diverse as its culture.
The city has no dominating monument, no natural monolith that serves as its focal
point. Instead, Buenos Aires is composed of many small places, intimate details,
and tiny events and interactions, each with a slightly different shade, shape,
and character. Glass-sheathed skyscrapers cast their slender shadows on 19th
century Victorian houses; tango bars hazed with the piquant tang of cigar smoke
face dusty, treasure-filled antique shops across the way.
The city's neighbourhoods are small and highly individualized, each with its
own characteristic colors and forms. In the San Telmo district, the city's multinational
heritage is embodied in a varied
and cosmopolitan architecture - Spanish Colonial design couples with Italian
detailing and graceful French Classicism. La Boca's pressed tin houses are painted
a rainbow of colors, and muralists have turned the district's side-streets into
avenues of color.
For all its diversity, the elusive spirit of Argentina as a country is present
everywhere in Buenos Aires. The national dance, the tango, is perhaps the best
expression of that spirit--practiced in dance halls, parks, open plazas, and
ballrooms, it is a dance of intimate separation and common rhythm, combining
both an elegant reserve and an exuberant passion.
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