Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Buenos Aires Neighborhoods - Microcentro
Welcome to Microcentro!
Buenos Aires Neighborhoods |
Approximate boundaries: Avenida de Mayo — Avenida Córdoba & Leandro N. Alem — Avenida 9 de Julio
Microcentro is the hub of Buenos Aires in every way. Short-term visitors will find themselves walking the streets of this neighborhood more than any other and long-term visitors will find themselves returning again and again. Microcentro is the geographical and symbolic heart of the city. It encapsulates the pulse of the Buenos Aires financial district, endless historical sights, unparalleled architecture, shopping, and some of the most prestigious hotels and restaurants.
Being home to the financial district adds major character during the weekday nine-to-five chaos. The world famous, 16-lane Avenida 9 de Julio, is chock-a-block with kamikaze drivers and honking horns. Cross at your own risk or sit in the plazita next to the Obelisco for great people watching. The narrow, sinuous side streets provide little respite and colectivos (city buses) play chicken with thousands of cars, mopeds, gutsy delivery guys on bicycles, and pedestrians. Office buildings stretch skyward and create an almost claustrophobic environment during peak hours. The real challenge is maneuvering the streets while simultaneously avoiding paper fliers for current pasta specials, an overly friendly salesman offering a great deal on leather coats, or the constant barrage of the well-dressed gents on lower Corrientes offering cambio. Everything is for sale in Microcentro and someone is always open for business.
The pedestrian thoroughfares of Calles Florída and Lavalle have, instead of becoming a respite, created their own version of gridlock in the form of the pedestrian superhighway. While you won't suck down exhaust fumes on Florída, you will be vying for sidewalk space with thousands of power shoppers in one of the world's busiest (and slightly less upscale of late) shopping districts. While Florída has definitely seen better days one fancy-pants exception remains in the form of the Galerías Pacífico, which is worth a visit for it's crowning feature — the murals on the ceiling — as well as it's neighboring Jorge Luis Borges Cultural Center which keeps class intact downtown in the form of incredible and accessible art exhibitions, films, and workshops. Lavalle provides a deliciously seedy counterpart with smoky $5 peso movie theaters, $2 peso choripanes, and $10 peso sexual favors. Daytime bustle melts away into darkened milongas and back-alley strip clubs keeping the pulse going through the night, even behind closed doors.
The architecture, traffic, and streams of people coming and going can certainly be dizzying but like most major business districts, when Friday at 5pm hits, the streets clear and Microcentro develops a more peaceful existence until early Monday morning. The weekend respite is ghostly at times and suddenly Microcentro becomes an almost pleasant place to stroll take in the architecture and history of the neighborhood. Empty weekend streets house the must-see Café Tortoni as well as the Casa Rosada and the Plaza De Mayo, both less likely to be hosting protests on a Saturday afternoon and the Plaza provides one of Microcentro's only green patches to enjoy in this Gotham-esque world.
All of Argentina's finest once haunted these streets and the porteños are proud as punch of all the goings-on downtown. Local apartments house residents that have lived here through thick and thin, corruption and death, wealth and poverty. Downtown residents and business owners can be thick-skinned and a tough audience, and can you blame them for being a little jaded? Century-old places will give you a double dose of sassy indifference with your café cortado but, make no mistake, these bustling city streets are the soul of Buenos Aires. This is the area of town where stiletto heels click clack past children begging for spare change and talented street performers wait in line side-by-side fur coats for lunchtime empanadas. The contradictions, more than anything else, make Microcentro a beautiful reminder that Buenos Aires is one of the greatest, classiest, most decadent cities in the world and, still, a city in crisis. This is the place where all of the worlds in Buenos Aires come to work.