La Boca neighbourhood, Buenos Aires

//La Boca neighbourhood, Buenos Aires

La Boca neighbourhood, Buenos Aires

Usually once a month students and teachers go to La Boca.

La Boca is a neighborhood (barrio) of Buenos Aires. It is one of Buenos Aires’s 47 barrios. La Boca is located in the city’s south-east near its port. The barrio of Barracas is to the west; San Telmo and Puerto Madero are to the north.
La Boca is the oldest, most colorful, and most authentic neighborhood in Buenos Aires. The neighborhood was settled and built by Italian immigrants that worked in the warehouses and meatpacking plants in the area. La Boca is partly an artist colony, and mostly a working-class neighborhood.
It retains a strong European flavour, with many of its early settlers being from the Italian city of Genoa. In fact the name has a strong assonance with the genoese neighborhood of Boccadasse (or Bocadaze in genoese dialect), and some people believe that the Buenos Aires’ barrio was indeed named after it or maybe because it is by he mouth of the river (Boca means mouth).. After a lengthy general strike, La Boca seceded from Argentina in 1882, and the rebels raised the Genoese flag, which was immediately torn down personally by then President Julio Argentino Roca.
It is known throughout the sporting world as the home of Boca Juniors, one of South America’s top football clubs. La Boca is a popular destination for tourists visiting Argentina, with its colourful houses and main street, the Caminito.
The Genoese proudly brought their unique identity to La Boca, and one of their old traditions was to paint the outside of their homes with the leftover paint from the shipyard – as nothing else was available or could be afforded.
Here are the main attrations:

La Boca Soccer Stadium
The Boca Juniors is one of the biggest soccer teams in Argentina and happens to be one of the clubs that the soccer great Diego Maradona played for. Their stadium, La Bombonera, is not so surprisingly located in the La Boca barrio. It is possible to get tickets to most games and be a part of a truly Argentine experience.
Spanish school - Verbum - Boca Junior Stadium

Museo de Bellas Artes Quinquela Martin
Once a residence and studio of the artist Quinquela Martin, this museum has a collection of early 20th century Argentine artists. The museum is also known as the Fine Arts Museum of La Boca.
What shocked me the most was the house of the famous paintor Benito Quinquela Martin, whose painting about the La Boca dock is very well known.
Spanish school - Verbum - Benito Quinquela Martín “Atardecer rosado” by Quinquela (1969)

Benito Quinquela Martin, an abandoned orphan who was adopted by a Genoese immigrant couple in La Boca, was the man to take action. He had become the most significant painter in Argentina, with his dramatic paintings of the port of La Boca, and achieved worldwide recognition. But as La Boca was his inspiration, and had provided him with family, friends and shelter after having been orphaned at an early age, he felt he owed the barrio something in return.
And so in 1959, Quinquela Martin and his artist friends created the street of Caminito, as a means of recreating the way old La Boca used to look – a reminder of where everyone had come from, not just in La Boca, but Buenos Aires, and Argentina, because this barrio and its port had been the gateway for many immigrants into this city and country (up until Puerto Madero & then Puerto Nuevo were built as replacements in the early 1900s), who then went on to make Buenos Aires and Argentina what they are today.
The museum is located in Pedro de Mendoza 1835 (Phone: 4301-1080)

Caminito
The most famous street in La Boca is called Caminito and is the center of tourist activity in the area. It is a small but colorful pedestrian street on the corner of Don Pedro de Mendoza & Del Valle Iberlucea The street is commonly shown on postcards for its multi-colored houses. Many artists also show off their work on the sides of the main street.
Spanish school - Verbum - La Boca The beginning of Caminito´s street.

Spanish school - Verbum - La Boca Houses in Caminito street.

It was created by Benito Quinquela Martin. What Quinquela Martin did was to rescue bits and pieces of the original immigrant conventillos that were being torn down and replaced, and used them to create a concentrated conventillo community around this small street, in what is essentially an uninhabited open-air art and history exhibit, and officially the world’s first outdoor pedestrian museum.
There are also Tango dancers in the street and you can pose with them and just give them a peso or two.
Spanish school - Verbum - La Boca Matthias with a tango dancer

There are also lots of fun cutouts boards that you can stick your head through and take a picture (with your own camera). Just give the board’s owner a peso as well.

Camino literally means ‘way’ or ‘walkway’ in English, and the -ito or -ita ending tagged onto Spanish nouns means little or small. And so Caminito is often translated as either ‘little walkway’, ‘little road’, ‘little path’, or ‘little street’.
All of these are correct. It is little! At less than 100 meters long, it was never going to win any awards for size, but then Buenos Aires claims to already has those in the bag – Avenida 9 de Julio for world’s widest street and Avenida Rivadavia for world’s longest!
Few tourists venture out of the main street in La Boca, Caminito, because the rest of the neighborhood is not considered safe.
When we strayed from the colored houses in order to see the Boca Stadium, only a few blocks away, the difference was immediately palpable. There was an increase in greyscale, street graffiti, and a few policemen. There was a sharp decrease in the number of strolling tourists soaking in the sights.

Handcraft market
If you come to Caminito at the weekend, you will also be able to do a little souvenir shopping the Feria de la Ribera arts and crafts market, which starts at the front of Caminito and goes around in front of the Riachuelo river. Here you will find handmade crochet scarves and shawls (see picture), traditional mate gourds and bombillas (the metal straws used for drinking mate), jewellery and lots of other interesting craft pieces, all at reasonable prices.

Conventillo Housing
In La Boca you can also see old conventillos.
Inmigrants took things one step further in La Boca, and actually built the houses almost completely from materials found or discarded in the shipyard. This was because of the huge population explosion due to the immigration at the turn of the 20th century – there just was not enough homes for all of the people in Buenos Aires.
The answer to this problem was conventillo (tenement / shared) housing. Conventillos were long houses with small rooms that opened out onto a central outdoor common patio. Whereas in somewhere like San Telmo, for example, conventillos were generally old mansions, in La Boca they had to be more inventive. Here the conventillos were hastily constructed from scrap corrugated metal and wood from old ships, and to spruce them up a little, doors and windows were then decorated in the famous bright color combinations with the leftover paint from the port, that tradition brought from Genoa.

There are also tango shows in La Boca streets:
Spanish school - Verbum - La Boca

And if you work up a hunger after traipsing around Caminito and the feria, I can recommend an authentic Italian Pizzeria nearby in La Boca Banchero Pizzeria (Suárez 396 http://www.bancheropizzerias.com.ar/ ) . The restaurant also happens to have been a favorite of Benito Quinquela Martin, the architect of Caminito, so it is a fitting end to the outing – and delicious too!
Other attractions include the La Ribera theatre, many tango clubs and Italian taverns

To get to La Boca there are a three options: walk, bus, or taxi.

By |2007-05-06T16:59:54+00:00May 6th, 2007|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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