Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Buenos Aires Neighborhoods - Retiro
Welcome to Retiro!
Buenos Aires Neighborhoods |
Approximate boundaries: Avenida Córdoba — Avenida Libertador & Leandro N. Alem — Montevideo
The word 'retiro' means retreat and this neighborhood was so named as it was once a country retreat. Urbanization has taken over in the last few centuries, but managed to leave Retiro with some patches of green making it a neighborhood with a great deal to offer and a totally split personality. Retiro is most commonly associated with transit as the north side of this barrio is home to Buenos Aires' busiest bus and train stations along with ferries to Uruguay, taxis, bicycles, subtes, and city colectivos shuttling people back and forth. Commuters are constantly coming and going rubbing shoulders with backpackers and vagrants all vying for sidewalk space. Retiro is a geographical frontier of several neighborhoods — where Puerto Madero, Microcentro, Recoleta, and outer barrios come to a head. At any given time, one could feel as though they were in any of these places.
Outside the bustling stations, the streets are alive with activity. Commuters hustle past countless street vendors selling everything from pink neon money holders to the cheapest and most questionable street meat that Buenos Aires has to offer. Prices are low and quality varies. Like most centers of transit, the north side of Retiro can be a little off-putting outside of business hours as it holds one of the capitals largest villas or shantytowns where lost tourists may as well be wearing a bulls eye on their back. Those in the know head to the gorgeous Plaza San Mart'n and all that the south side has to offer.
Over the past centuries Plaza San Martín has been used for bullfights, slave trade, fortifications, ferias, and more. These days, it is one of Buenos Aires' most refreshing nature breaks. When the weather is nice, young couples frolic in the grass and men in business suits take their lunch on quiet benches under the trees. It is certainly a breath of fresh air from the chaos that exists only a few hundred meters away in every direction. If a well-maintained plaza is too wholesome for you, the Museo de Armas across the street has more weaponry than even the most homicidal could imagine. All around the plaza, downtown skyscrapers reach upward including the funky Edificio Kavanagh which was once the tallest concrete structure in the world and now may be in serious contention for the ugliest depending who you ask. In what may be the greatest demonstration of porteño identity crisis, one of the crowning features of the barrio is the Torre de los Ingleses, a gift from the English community that is allegedly modeled after Big Ben though it hardly looks or sounds that way. During the Falkland Islands wall, the tower was an obvious target. These days a beautiful memorial to fallen soldiers in the war, the Monumento a los Ca'dos de Malvinas, stands in the lower, west side of the plaza, guarded by active military men and bringing a sense of sobriety to the whole scene.
Outside of the plaza, on the south side, Reitro slips into Microcentro and some of the most delicious and celebrated restaurants and nightlife can be found along the way. Art lovers with bulging wallets head to trendy eateries for cocktails and oil paintings — a favorite of Buenos Aires' celebrity visitors. In recent years a crop of expatriate favorites have appeared including Irish bars and far-from-authentic Thai food. Into the night the gentlemen's clubs open their doors and the bars begin emanating their enticing trance beats — and suddenly Retiro makes it easy to lose track of time.
Literally spanning from shantytown, cardboard homes, to the most luxurious restaurants, shopping, and partying, in the expat-friendly border of Microcentro, Retiro still hasn't really decided what its definitive identity will be. This is lucky for us, as if it ever does, we might have to find somewhere else to experience the best of all worlds.