Latinamerica Collection
Detailed Descriptions of Places

Buenos Aires

The city of Buenos Aires was first founded in 1536, but its settlers experienced frequent attacks by the native tribes and left the site abandoned after five years. A permanent settlement was reestablished in 1580 in the same spot. Since its first years, Buenos Aires was dependant on trade through the region. However, with the Spanish crown's order that all trade go through Lima, Peru for tax reasons, the inhabitants of Buenos Aires formed a contraband trade route. This led to the resentment of Spanish authorities by the locals.

 

Attacks by the native tribes continued violently until the seventeenth century when raids from other countries like France, Portugal, and Denmark became frequent. In 1617, Buenos Aires was given its own governor but remained loyal to the Spanish viceroy in Peru. Prosperity surfaced in the area after the Spanish began lifting trade restrictions in hopes of curtailing resentment. However, this had an opposite effect and made complete independence even more desirable to the locals. In the early 1800s British attacks were resisted without the help of the Spanish which once again inspired separatists even further. In 1810, armed citizens initiated the Latin American struggle for independence and demanded the resignation of the viceroy. A provisional government was created but the newly independent region's two factions butted heads and caused many years of civil conflict before the region finally experienced stability.

 

During the mid 1800s, the construction of a railroad brought many European workers to the country as well as a period of prosperity. At this time, Buenos Aires was considered equally as strong as many European capital cities. However, further political struggle during the next century led to economic suffering, a problem that has only recently begun to improve.

 

Today, Buenos Aires is a massive city, home to over 13 million people, a very diverse population compared to many Latin American cities. This is due to the large influx of European immigrants during the construction of the country's railroad and has caused the city to closely resemble the modern European city; many equate Buenos Aires to Paris for this very reason.

 

Because of this European influence, the cuisine in Buenos Aires is very diverse and includes many dishes that are now a mix of traditional Argentinean dishes with a flavorful European flare. Restaurants and other great food stops are frequent in Buenos Aires especially in those upscale shopping areas that attract such large crowds. These destinations are presented in the sopping section of this outline. In addition, thanks to the city's enormous size, the nightlife in Buenos Aires is always exciting, with many evening hangouts, bars and restaurants, theaters and cinemas, and of course nightclubs where you can dance until morning.

 

The climate in Buenos Aires is relatively mild. The summer months, coinciding with the winter months in the North, can be quite warm with average temperatures around 30°C (86°F) in January and temperatures around 10°C (50°F) in July. Rain can be expected at any time throughout the year as the area does have a generally subtropical climate.

 

Much like the cuisine, culture in Buenos Aires has been heavily influenced by European descendants. The city is home to one of the world's most famous opera houses, the Teatro Colón, as well as many symphony orchestras and even a plethora of museums related to a wide range of topics from art to music to theater, crafts, and written works. Other impressive destinations include the many public libraries, gardens, parks, plazas, and historic buildings and structures which are showcased ahead.

 

The Teatro Colón was completed in 1908 after 20 years of construction and can house nearly 3,500 people in total including standing room for 1,000. By the mid nineteenth century the city was hosting dozens of operas and was in obvious need of a larger venue. Since its opening, Colón has hosted many of the world's leading opera singers and is currently being refurbished and renovated to mark its centennial in mid 2008.

 

The Buenos Aires Botanical Garden has been declared a national monument and was completed in 1898. The garden consists of nearly 70,000 square meters and is home to thousands of species of plants and trees and is made up of (but not limited to) three distinct gardens, the French, Roman, and Asian gardens with many age old plant species from these regions of the world. The botanical garden also houses a division of the university used as a gardening school, as well as many artistic sculptures in monuments, a Botanical Library, and also a museum.

 

The Plaza de Mayo, surrounded by many important government and administrative buildings, is another famous landmark of Buenos Aires. It has been the site of various public demonstrations throughout the country's history and remains an principal monument today.

 

The city is also home to many sporting events happening year round and has become a city that pleases every personality thanks to its large size and diversity. Buenos Aires is a fantastic destination that you will surely want to experience during your vacation to Argentina.

 

Mar del Plata
This famous tourist destination first started operating hotels in the late 1800s and has exploded ever since. The first tourists were the upper class residents of Buenos Aires, but the resort town now hosts millions of tourists every year from all ends of the world.

 

Mar del Plata was originally a small fishing port that has grown into an immense tourist infrastructure populated with limitless hotels, restaurants, theaters, and even casinos as well as many other popular attractions. However, industry in the area has retained its significance. Mar del Plata is still an important fishing port and is also involved in industries such as food processing, textiles, and the production of automated packaging machines used in industry all over the world.

 

Although this spot is characterized by the many hotels and beach resorts, it also maintains its historic side with beautifully preserved twentieth century architecture that was built to reflect the high class tourists that first frequented the town. In the later part of the century, the architecture was toned down significantly which successfully attracted a more diverse crowd of middle class tourists form surrounding cities.

 

Tourists can enjoy a number of beach water sports including swimming, windsurfing, jet skiing, diving, sailing, and fishing. Also, there are many tours and other activities offered. For example, the city is home to a zoo and botanical gardens as well as a huge water park, a great place to enjoy the warm summer days. There are also great golfing opportunities and even a surf school to teach you all you need to ride the waves. Another popular choice is one of the many ocean cruises available or a trip to an interesting museum showcasing the treasures of the sea. Of course tourists can always just relax on the beach as this is one of the few seaside cities with such a vast, attractive beach. And also be sure to enjoy a meal in one of the many waterfront restaurants lining the stunning beaches.

 

Bariloche
This pleasant, peaceful town is located inside of Nahuel Huapi National Park and along Lake Bariloche which gives it the perfect balance of city and nature. Because of its obvious proximity to the lake and also the famous ski resort, Cerro Catedral, this popular destination is perfect for every season of the year. While the winter has its snow sports, the summer is an exciting time for adventure sports, such as rafting, hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding.

 

Settled mainly by Germans and Austrians, this town was founded shortly before the turn of the twentieth century. Today, the city resembles a secluded alpine town with around 100,000 inhabitants. Today the town is home to a stunning cathedral and rich civic center complete with a library, a theater, a museum, a post office, a police station, and the City Hall building.

 

The local paleontology museum is a popular and very interesting stop where tourists can enjoy the many fossils from the region including a reconstructed 22 million year old shark as well as many other flora and fauna fossils, some dating back to 300 million years ago. Another interesting exhibit you will not want to miss in the museum are the fossils of the small dinosaurs that once roamed this area.

 

Some other very popular attractions are the many adventure sports available. For example, river rafting is a very exciting sport with rapids ranging from nice and light to strong and even violent at times. Rafters must paddle in sync and just as the guide says in order to get through these breathtaking rapids. Another available adventure sport is canyoning, which combines hiking, climbing, and swimming through rapids as well as rappelling down waterfalls. This is sure to give you a strong adrenaline rush.

 

Another thrilling option is joining in on the week long biking tour across the Andes including a tough climb and an adrenaline inducing descent down the Osorno Volcano. Or take this opportunity to participate in an exciting hike over the frozen glaciers of Castaña Overa at high altitudes. This trek will leave even the most experienced hikers amazed. Of course, if you are not interested in hiking over the ice, there are many other trails available through the reserve, such as hikes through the forest or into the valley...the choices are many!

 

Mendoza
Founded in 1561, this historic city comes complete with everything needed to have a blast! One of the most exciting events in Mendoza is the Vendimia festival, which is an elaborate grape season celebration in March where the town joins together to enjoy folklore, music, dance, religious ceremonies, and of course wine. Other festivals include those honoring the other agricultural harvests as well the Festival de la Tonada and the Fiesta Folklórica-ecuestre. Whichever you attend be sure to come ready with a great appetite.

 

Some enjoyable attractions include the many museums in Mendoza. One of the most popular is the Museo Cornelio Moyano, which focuses on natural history as does the Museo del Área Fundacional another exciting stop. After the mention of the grape season festival it is no surprise that another important museum focuses on the history of wine and wine production in the area, the Museo Nacional del Vino. Tourists can also visit the famous Ruta de los Vinos where you can take a tour of ancient wine cellars and try the local selection.

 

Mendoza's outdoors fit the historic city stereotype with many tree-lined streets and outdoor cafés where visitors and locals can enjoy the mild weather and passersby. The city is centered around a main plaza, Plaza Independencia with many other small parks, squares, and plazas scattered throughout the town. One popular stop is the famous Parque San Martín, over a century old and modeled after the English and French styles of the 1800s. The main entrance is adorned with lavishly decorated gates while the interior has a rose garden walkway lined with dozens of sculptures and monuments. The park is even home to a zoo and a local university.

 

Ushuaia
This city is a popular tourist destination because of its geography. Located near the southern tip of the continent, this is the southernmost city in the world. For that reason, Ushuaia has a very strong hotel and restaurant infrastructure which is sure to please all visiting tourists. Because of its geography this city experiences 18 hours of light in the summer and only 8 in the winter varying as the seasons change. Surrounding the city is a variety of beautiful landscapes including mountains, ocean, forests, and glaciers making this destination a nature lover's paradise.

 

Ushuaia offers visitors many different outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, and fishing. Also, there are a variety of ski resorts, the closest being Cerro Castor with one of the best schools in the country.

 

Also, Ushuaia offers many boat and cruise expeditions through the Beagle Channel and the surrounding waterways of Tierra del Fuego. One such expedition sets out to Staten Island 29 kilometers off the coast of Tierra del Fuego. Enjoy the delicious food, company and the incredible views. Other excursions depart for the surrounding bays and islands in the area allowing tourists to experience the beautiful scenery and impressive wildlife. Tourists have the option of traveling by either motorboat or sailboat.

 

In addition, you may visit the old prison building that has since been transformed into a maritime museum. Here visitors will learn about the original inhabitants of the area as well as the unique prison itself. Because of this prison's location on a secluded island there was not much worry of escape. For that reason, it was the prisoners themselves that constructed the main building as well as streets, bridges, public buildings, and the telephone and electricity infrastructure. Tourists can even take a ride on the original train used to transport the prisoners from their cells to the camps where they spent their days working.

 

Ushuaia also offers exciting scuba diving into the end of the world. Experience the exciting underwater life including different exotic fish as well as plant life. There are many different exceptional diving spots in the area, most of which are arrived upon by boat. One popular destination for experienced divers is to a shipwreck site. The overturned ship remains in ruins at the bottom of the ocean allowing divers to see the old stairs and chimneys as well as bottles full of their original content, a truly impressive sight.

 

Another exhilarating excursion is a hike to the glaciers and the impressive ice caves formed by them. Trekkers will hike a few hours to the glacier and will then suit up for a trip across the ice using special hiking gear. This excursion includes a long pass through immense rock walls as well as the gorgeous surrounding scenery of the mountains and lagoons.

 

Cuisine in the area is exquisite showcasing the delicious seafood native to the area. Some restaurants have adapted age old recipes that were used among fisherman on their vessels during their sea bound excursions. Others have created their own dishes such as the many popular seafood stews and other impressive dishes. Clearly, tourists will enjoy very much their visit to the southernmost city in the world!