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Palacio Paz – A Private Home Fit for Kings

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The most expensive Hotel in Buenos Aires

Fleeing the yellow fever which was devastating the city’s southern barrios at the beginning of the 20th century, Buenos Aires’ most wealthy families established fabulous residences around Retiro’s Plaza San Martín. None were more extravagant than the Palacio Paz.

Dome

José Camilio Paz was the founder of La Prensa, the city’s most influential newspaper, and a man whose success brought him to the forefront of Porteño society. He was Argentina’s ambassador to France, and harbored aspirations to the presidency. Clearly, he regarded himself as a man of much import, and so ordered the construction of an outrageous private home in the heart of the city.

Like many Argentinians of his day, Paz was obsessed with Europe, and returned to France to choose an architect and materials. Construction on the palace stretched from 1901 to 1914, but Paz died in 1912 without ever seeing the completed work. But his widow and family happily moved in, and enjoyed a life of absolute splendor.

As we were taking the tour, our guide stressed that the Palacio Paz was for a family of nine. Yet, regardless of how many times I heard that, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea. This was a place fit for royalty. At four stories and 12,000 square meters of space, the sheer size of it is incredible. The nine family members had sixty servants at their disposal. There are seven elevators. Seven.

Our tour started in the reception area, moved into the ball room, then a long gallery, decked out with wooden benches and velvet walls. We continued through the dining room of honor, where each guest had his own personal waiter, the smoking room, the ladies’ room, and the music room. At this point I was starting to lose my orientation; every room was just as gorgeous as the last. But on we marched, through the waiting room, to the music room and then into a round room which shattered my conceptions of what kind of things private wealth could actually purchase.

This was the formal reception room, meant to leave guests astonished, and it accomplishes its task handily. A perfectly circular room over 21 meters in height with statues, paintings, marbled columns and a ceiling fresco dedicated to Louis XIV, the Sun King. From here, we were led into the garden, and had the chance to admire the iron wrought sun room on the palace’s back side.

After the Paz family moved on, the palace was purchased by the Círculo Militar for private functions and, except for the unfortunate addition of a sporting area which replaced the garage and stables, it’s survived almost completely intact into the modern day. The tour costs $40 (US$10) per person, and is a wonderful chance to see how magnificently rich porteños of the early 20th century were able to live.

Palacio Paz
Av. Santa Fe, 750
English-Language Tours at 3:30pm, Wed & Thu
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Buy Dulce de Leche Online

Marble Buenos Aires
Wood Way
Wood Arche
Chandelier Weirds
Wooden Fireplace
Fire Place Hunk
Fancy Dining Room
Massive
Fancy Lamp
Ballroom Buenos Aires
China Vase Lamp
Dizzy Lamp
Barroc Buenos Aires
Kronleuchter
Palace Buenos Aires
Weird Lamps
Amazing Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires Palace
Curious
Black Door
Rose Garden
Palacio Paz Buenos Aires
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April 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm Comments (2)

A Tour of Buenos Aires’ Best Graffiti

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Nuevo Mundo: Latin American Street Art

Like all great metropolises, Buenos Aires has a thriving street art scene. We took a tour of some of the best graffiti the city has to offer.

Graffiti Tour Buenos Aires

The three-hour tour is organized by Graffiti Mundo, and on a Saturday afternoon we joined a sizable group in Palermo. Our guide was a friendly Australian girl who’s been a peripheral part of the scene for years. She personally knew a lot of the artists whose work we would be introduced to, and was full of colorful stories from the volatile underground world.

Part of what makes Buenos Aires’ scene so special is its relatively high level of social acceptance, permitting artists to work during the daytime on large, complicated pieces. Huge fish creatures splayed across empty walls, wrestling tigers, cutesy anime girls and unique combinations of stenciling, spray and painted art. We learned the names and styles of certain artists, and saw what happens when goodwill between groups dissolves: usually, the best revenge is had by painting over each other’s works. Disappointment once briefly darkened our guide’s cheery demeanor, after she discovered that one of her favorite pieces had vanished. This constant threat of disappearance is frustrating, but also part of what makes street art so compelling.

The tour was both on foot and via bus, and took us to some corners of the city we’d have never otherwise seen. We went into the warehouse studio of an artist named Ever, to check out some of his upcoming work, and ended up at the Post Street Bar: a cool joint whose interior decoration was provided by street artists.

At the end of three hours, we were exhausted, but had a decent understanding of Porteño graffiti. The tour cost $90 apiece, and takes off every Saturday. Reservations essential.

Graffiti Mundo’s Website
Tel: +54 9113 683 3219
Location of Post Street Bar
Street Art we liked in Valencia, Spain

Graffiti Tour
Cute Graffiti
Urban Monster
Gualicho Graffiti
Urban Art Animals
Palermo Architecture
Monster Tower
Gabaio Zoo
Graffiti Monkey
Urban Art Buenos Aires
Stencil Graffiti
Gabaio Stencil
Tagged
Madres de Mayo
Mill Buenos Aires
Art Buenos Aires
3 in 1 Face
Art Buenos Aires
Bat Art
Blark
Bock Frau
Boy Stensil
Bush Mikey Mouse Ears
Colabo Art
Elk Art
Gay Carlos Gardel
Graffiti Palermo
Graffiti Fight
Graffiti Photography
Jaz Art
Pig Art
Tegui Restaurant
Jungle Men
LOLz
Rhino Art
Zumi Art
Rodez Art
Self Tag
Street Rats
Stencil Portrait
Tur Bo
Wolfy
Ever Artist
Graffiti Eye
Graffiti Tools
Graffiti Guide Buenos Aires
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April 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm Comments (5)

Caballito – The Middle of the City

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Explore Buenos Aires

The geographic center of Buenos Aires is Caballito, a charming neighborhood with large green spaces, and well served by the Subte. Although it’s not on the top of the normal tourist itinerary, this barrio has enough highlights to make it worth a trip.

Centenario Buenos Aires

We began our excursion at the perfectly round Parque Centenario, designed by master urban planner Carlos Thays (also responsible for the Jardín Botánico). Though the park looked cool enough, we happened to arrive at the same time as a massive thunderstorm, and sought shelter in the Natural History Museum.

Nature History Museum

Along with approximately 39,403 screeching Argentinian rugrats, we drip-dried while looking at fossils, animal replicas and fish. The focus was on on native Argentine fossils and dinosaurs, such as the giant glyptodon, and it was fascinating to see the differences between prehistoric life here, versus in the USA. Their prehistoric monsters seem cuter, somehow. Though we hadn’t planned on a visit, the museum was a fun place to escape the rain. But if you’re allergic to children, you might want to stay away.

Once the downpour ceased, we walked along Avenida Rivadavia, a boisterous shopping street. It was a nice alternative to the more famous and ultra-touristy shopping zones in Retiro, with stores of comparable quality. And it was relieving to be surrounded by Argentines who weren’t continually shoving Tango Show fliers into our faces. We walked past the Parque Rivadavia, and browsed the offers at a second-hand book market. I bought an old Superman comic for a few pesos, and then sat down for a drink in El Coleccionista, a bar notable which still serves as a meeting place for different groups of collectors.

Book Market Buenos Aires

Fully rested, we ventured onto the other side of Calle Rivadavia and into the Mercado del Progreso. Behind its wonderful art deco facade is a lively goods and produce market, which has been a staple of the neighborhood since 1889. It was cool but we didn’t spend much time inside; the day was getting late, and we didn’t want to miss out on an historic tram ride.

The Tranvía Histórico de Caballito offers free trips around a small section of the neighborhood. Until 1963, trams had been one of the primary modes of transportation in Buenos Aires, linking the city’s 48 barrios to one another. Out-of-use tracks are still visible in between the cobblestones of many of the older streets, and the Asociación de Amigos del Tranvía seeks to remember this history by operating one last route. It’s a fun ride; a quick 20-minute trip into the romantic past.

Tram Ride Buenos Aires

The tram skirts around a section of Caballito known as the Barrio Inglés, long one of Buenos Aires’ most fashionable residential areas. The small area occupies just a few blocks, and has somehow survived intact into the present day. Built in the late 1800s as homes for British train executives, the Georgian- and Victorian-style houses are gorgeous, and cost a small fortune. This is one of those areas in Buenos Aires where vigilant security guards will watch your movements carefully.

Enjoy our pictures of Caballito! We’re making an effort to explore some of the less well-charted areas of Buenos Aires… if there are other great neighborhoods which not many tourists get to see, let us know!

Ducks
Stone Beast
Bird Argentina
Bird Collection
Flamingo
Insect Collection
See Stern
Skull
Blubber Beast
Simon Bolivar Buenos Aires
Lady and Sons
Beer Snack
Qiulmes
Market Buenos Aires
Malinesas
Market Caballito
Tracks Buenos Aires
Yellow Tram
Old Tram Buenos Aires
Tourist Tramway
Tramway Argentina
Tramway
Tramway Historico
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April 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm Comments (4)

Tour of the Casa Rosada

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Buenos Aires Day by Day

The US might have the White House, but Argentina has the Pink House. The Casa Rosada at the eastern extreme of the Plaza de Mayo is the seat of the country’s government, where the President and her staff work. On weekends, you can tour the building for free.

Casa Rosada

Unlike America’s White House, the President doesn’t live inside the Casa Rosada. But very much like America’s Jennifer Lopez, the building is most frequently photographed from behind. The front of the Casa Rosada faces towards Parque Colón, and people taking pictures from the Plaza de Mayo are actually admiring its boomin’ rear facade. The back balcony is where Eva Peron delivered her famous speeches.

Evita’s presence still looms large over the Casa Rosada, which is more correctly known as the Casa del Gobierno. Along with a huge group of about 60, mostly Argentinians, we were led the premises around by a decoratively outfitted soldier. There was a gallery of important South American leaders, a gorgeous courtyard with a fountain, classic artwork on the walls and stunning interior architecture. We were able to get out onto the balcony, and look out over the Plaza just as Evita once did. I’ll give you one guess what song I was humming. We were even allowed entrance into the President’s office.

The house’s strange color has a poetic meaning of its own. Pink was chosen as a way to soothe relations between rival political parties, by symbolically mixing their colors: red and white. It looks beautiful, particularly at dusk. The Casa Rosada has been the heart of Argentine politics since the country’s founding.

Casa Rosada on our Buenos Aires Map

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Argentina Flag
Rosada
Rosada Casa
Pink Tunnel
Pink House
Evita Balcony
Casa Rosada Free Tour
Casa Rosada Stairs
Eva Peron
Peron
Casa Rosada
Casa Rosada Fontan
Guard Argentina
Rosada Guard
Tiles and Glass Buenos Aires
Garden Casa Rosada
Gaucho
Casa Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires Tour
Golden Argentina
Evita Waiting Room
Pink Balcony
Buenos Aires
Plaza Mayo
Antiques
Golden Room
Guard
Symbol Argentina
Politics Argentina
Chairs Argentina
Buenos Aires Lion
Argentina Architecture
Argentina President
Naked Silver
Fancy Bust
Argentina Sun

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February 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm Comments (3)
Palacio Paz - A Private Home Fit for Kings
For 91 Days