Charming, bohemian and colourful, the barrio of Palermo in Buenos Aires went straight to my heart. I spent days endlessly walking the tree-lined streets and enjoying soaking in the very special ambience of this part of the city. Buenos Aires is called Paris of Latin America, due to the large amount of immigrants from Europe in the 19th century and the culture and building styles they brought with them.
The leafy streets gives much needed shade and a sense of nature in this big city.
The architecture in Buenos Aires a mix of styles, eclectic to say the least, with French and Italian neoclassical, colonial, art nouveau and art deco buildings as well as Italian and French Renaissance-style palaces and of course modern high-rises. Not only influenced by European building styles as I first thought, but also complete buildings were brought here, stone by stone, sometimes complete palaces, prefabricated in Europe. Impressive.
Sometimes one is unaware that, because the trees are so dense that they almost form a roof, the city continues to spread upwards.
I enjoyed looking at architectural features such as the tall doors and windows or the wrought iron details of the houses in Palermo.
Even the cobblestones on the streets originate in parts from Europe. Some even from Sweden! Brought back here as ballast on the ships transporting the famous Argentinean meat to Europe.
One of the first things that I noticed was the amount of graffiti on the walls and that they were amazing! Sometimes whole houses were covered and really made a statement, adding to the bohemian feel of this neighborhood. See more fantastic graffiti in my next post.
They have some very distinctive house styles that are typical for Buenos Aires. The Casa chorizo or ”sausage house” and the PH houses are usually very narrow and very long houses with a series of rooms organized in a straight line around a patio, an open space though which the rooms receive natural light and ventilation, allowing the house to breathe. And then we have the Conventillos, which are a series of connected buildings, in the beginning used to accommodate the immense immigrant flow in the early 19th century.
I was fortunate enough to meet people who lived in these kind of houses and to have photo sessions in their homes. Behind this handsome door is Nicolás home. He is an architect and we spent a wonderful day together, were I learnt a lot not only about him but also about the architecture of Buenos Aires. Nicolás home and the other homes that I visited and photographed are featured in my upcoming book.
Also the cafe culture here originates from Europe. And boy do they do this to perfection! I found the best chocolate cake in the world right here! Lucky me!
Wine is important here as it’s one of the largest wine producing countries in the world, and the Argentineans are proud of their wines, such as the Malbec wines.
I love the relaxed ambience here. The pace of life here feels refreshingly slower. I walk the streets and try to get my bearings. Paraguay, Thames, Charcas, Nicaragua, Gurruchaga and all the other lovely tree-lined streets…Then I settle in for my two moths stay here.
I watch the dog walkers on their daily rounds. The small dogs have one dog handler. The big dogs another.
I buy my fruit and vegetable in local small shops, the displays spilling out onto the sidewalks. Find favourite cafes. Hairdressers. Food stores.
Enrolling in a school to pick up a bit of Spanish. Meeting new friends there. Here I’m with Peter and Julie at a polo match on a scorching hot day.
Having a ride on the Subte, the underground, can be a pleasant experience sometimes, listening to music or buying cakes.
And of course, working on my project. The reason I am here in the first place. Meeting wonderful people. Having long inspiring talks, and taking photos of their lovely homes. Making new friends through that. And loving every minute.
Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer