One of the most beautiful cities in the world is Buenos Aires, the „Paris of South America“. But also Salta with its great colonial architecture is a must for visitors.
To get to know this multifaceted, over 470-year-old city, you need time and comfortable shoes. Many places can be reached by „subte“ (underground), „colectivos“ (public buses) or taxi. But during the rush hour the traffic often stands still. And the subways are so crowded that you can hardly get in – and sometimes not even get out in time. Therefore, it is worth covering some distances on foot. Whether one is really faster then, it remains to be seen, as there are a lot of interesting shops and photo motives to discover in Buenos Aires for which one has to plan some time. And in the summer time, it sometimes gets very hot and stuffy in the metropolis at the banks of the river „Rio de la Plata“.
Visitors to the city can admire multi-storey Art Nouveau palaces on the 33-metre-wide boulevard „Avenida de Mayo“, go shopping and stop off at Café Tortoni, where top-class guests such as pianist Artur Rubinstein or Spanish writer Federico García Lorca have already stopped by. The „Avenida de Mayo“ connects the official building of the Argentinean National Congress with the presidential palace „Casa Rosada“ (Spanish for „Pink House“) built in 1884 on the „Plaza de Mayo“ square, the cradle and heart of Buenos Aires.
During the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, the „Plaza de Mayo“ gained international fame through the silent marches of the „Madres de Plaza de Mayo“ – mothers and grandmothers protesting against the „disappearance“ of their children and grandchildren. Every Thursday, since April 30, 1977, they silently walk around the square for 30 minutes, because standing up in protest was prohibited at that time. Their white headscarves, worn in mourning and protest, have since become a symbol of their fight for justice.
The different districts of Buenos Aires all have their own charm, like San Telmo, for example: the city’s formerly most exclusive residential area, which was fleeing from the distinguished society at the end of the 19th century after the outbreak of a yellow fever epidemic and was left to decay, is back in high demand. Especially on Sundays the lively square „Plaza Dorrego“ attracts tourists and locals (the „porteños“) with its flea market, its tango cafés and antique shops.
The harbor district „La Boca“ south of San Telmo is especially known for its houses, which are built from the tin of scrapped ships and painted with ship’s lacquer. The 100 meter long pedestrian zone „Caminito“ attracts with numerous tango shows. A popular hotspot is also the famous stadium „La Bombonera“ of the „Boca Juniors“.
In the French-influenced Recoleta district with its magnificent palaces, which today house embassies, noble boutiques, and elegant office and residential buildings, there is the „La Recoleta“ cemetery, where Evita Perón is buried along with other prominent Argentineans. In the lovingly designed „Museo Evita“ you can learn more about the legendary „First Lady of Argentina“, who was not without controversy. But also the „Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes“ (National Museum of Fine Arts) with one of the most important collections of Latin America as well as the „Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires MALBA“ (Museum of Latin American Art), which shows works of for example Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Wifredo Lam, are absolutely worth seeing.
The nightlife is also varied. In Buenos Aires you can not only enjoy huge beef steaks of the finest quality with a good drop of first-class Argentinean „vino tinto“ (red wine). The international cuisine also has a good reputation. Afterwards you can go to a tango show, to the legendary „Teatro Colón“ – one of the most famous opera houses in the world, to a bar or disco – just as you like it.
Situated in the fertile valley „Valle de Lerma“ at the foot of the Andes, the city of over 460,000 inhabitants surprises with its impressive colonial architecture as well as many churches and statues of St. Francis. In the native language of Aymará, Salta means „the beautiful one“, which you can still confidently sign today. The pleasant subtropical climate with lots of sunshine but little unbearable heat contributes to this.
Salta’s upswing at the time of the Spanish conquest was mainly due to its strategic location on the main trade route between Buenos Aires and Lima. The rich mansions, many fountains and monuments, as well as the mighty cathedral, which houses the stone carved figures of the Virgin and the „Cristo del Milagro“ (Miracle Christ), are evidence of this. The „Iglesia San Francisco“ in red gold is considered by many to be the most beautiful Argentinean colonial church.
A law of the government ensured that especially many colonial houses were built in Salta: There were tax reductions for buildings in the city centre that were built in the typical Spanish colonial style.
The Carmelite convent „Convento de San Bernardo“ in honour of Salta’s first patron saint is also part of the city tour: Originally built as a small chapel, it was converted in 1846 into the present Beguinage (Beguines are members of a medieval association of lay sisters) „Nuevo Carmelo de San Bernardo“. In 1762 Indian artists carved the main gate, which served as a portal from the middle of the 19th century.
The heart of the city is the green „Plaza 9 de Julio“ (9th of July Square). Under the colonnades, young and old meet in the evening for a chat or a coffee. Nobody starves in Salta, as everywhere, there are empanadas (filled pastries) and other snacks offered by Bolivian women.
Those who have more time should in any case drive with the „Tren de las Nubes“ (train of the clouds). The train really almost leads into the clouds, as the name already indicates. From 1.200 meters it goes up to the desert highlands of the Andes up to 4.475 meters. The journey becomes a real adventure when the train masters the steepest sections on zigzag switches…