La Boca District, Buenos Aires

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    La Boca and colorful houses of El Caminito

    by jumpingnorman Updated Mar 22, 2013

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    I saw pictures of the colored houses in La Boca when I read the travel books, and so I took a taxi to that famed street of El Caminito.
    The taxi driver was very kind, but he looked very concerned that I was walking alone. He warned me to just stay where people were since there have been reports of tourists being attacked in the area. I followed his instructions.
    In the mid-19th century, La Boca was home to Spanish and Italian immigrants who worked in meat-packing plants and warehouses in the beef-shipping industry. They used leftover paint to color the corrugated metal they used for building their houses. El Caminito, whose name is derived from a Tango song, is the most famous street with these colourful houses. And as expected, you can see tango dancers here and even take a photo or dance with them for a small fee.
    Someone then handed me a brochure about a boat ride, and I went to the stall and bought a ticket for the 1PM ride. "Diego" who handed me the brochure was the same person who drove the boat, and unfortunately for the company, I was the only passenger. So, it was like I rented the whole boat all for my own as it set off into the open river!

    I made a video of my short trip to Buenos Aires on Youtube. Hope you like this:

    JUMPING NORMAN IN BUENOS AIRES

    El Caminito in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina Riding a boat out of La Boca, Argentina Capitan Diego of boat at La Boca, Argentina
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    LA BOCA

    by mtncorg Written Dec 12, 2004

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    La Boca means ‘the mouth’ and that refers to the mouth of the Riachuelo River. This was BsAs first natural port. The dock facilities of Darsena Sur lie nearby. In the latter part of the 19th century, immigrants settled the area, especially Italians, giving it a peculiar appearance and nature. The tourist heart is located next to the small plaza by the Vuelta de Roca – the site where Almirante Brown, whose bust sits in the plaza – established the Argentina navy’s fleet shipyards. From the plaza, the little Caminito alley takes off. Boat tours of the south harbor also start from here, as well. Next to the plaza on the east side is the Escuela Pedro de Mendoza in which you can wander and look over the paintings of Benito Quinquela Martin, capturing some of the earlier soul of both La Boca and its port.

    Plaza at the Vuelta de Roca in La Boca
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    ESTADIO DEL CLUB BOCA JUNIORS

    by mtncorg Written Dec 12, 2004

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    Another look into the soul of La Boca is found a few short blocks north of the Vuelta de Rocha at the Boca Juniors Stadium. This is also known as La Bombonera – the Chocolate Box – because of its shape. An entrance mural painted by Quinquela Martin depicts the story of how Boca adopted its blue and yellow colors. Originally, the colors were red and white, but those were also the color of the River Plate team. Those colors were retained by River Plate when they beat Boca in a game to decide who would wear what. It was decided in La Boca afterwards, that they would adopt the colors of the first ship that entered the harbor and that was a Swedish ship. Boca Juniors have a long and storied history, though they might always be known as the team of Diego Maradona, the Argentine answer to Pele.

    The east side of la Bombonera from the cheap seats
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    PUENTE NICOLAS AVELLANEDA

    by mtncorg Written Dec 12, 2004

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    The original 1908 bridge is in a permanent ‘up’ position, sitting as a neighborhood symbol. Next to it, the 1939 bridge was build with a design harkening back to its predecessor. The bridges effectively separate the dock facilities of Darsena Sur from the neighborhood of La Boca. At the old bridge’s base is a small ferry service – the Riachuelo dinghies – providing pedestrians a means to cross the river by for 50 centavos, maybe more meaningful glimpse into the soul of La Boca than the garishness of the Caminito?

    The bridges Nicolas Avellaneda
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    La Boca photographer paradise

    by fachd Updated Sep 13, 2007

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    Hey dudes go and visit La Boca and take photos of the rainbow colour corrugated houses. This is where the artistic inhibitions flow, where the tango begun, where Maradona started his football career.

    La Boca is a district of Buenos Aires. It is a working class area and the oldest neighbourhood. In the early days the European mostly the Italian migrants from Genoa settled here, built the area and gave it a unique flavour. It was a busy port and now is no longer use as a Port.

    At Caminito Street is where you see colourful houses, souvenir shops, local artist selling their art work, the tango dancer perform their skills and where you’ll find tourist from other continent congregate. Nearby there are many restaurant, Italian Tavern and coffee bar. In some of the restaurant the Tango dancer will entertain while you are eating your lunch.

    We bought a painting from the local artist for 70 pesos and it look superb in our lounge.

    Not far is the Boca Soccer Jnr Stadium. It is the home of Boca Junior Soccer club. Diego Maradona did play with the club. When we were in Buenos Aires Boca Junior was on top of the ladder.

    If you into art a couple blocks away from Caminito Street is the Fine Arts Museum of La Boca. It has the collection of famous Argentine artist.

    We were glad we visited La Boca even though we read many negative views from other tourist. Just to show never believe what you read. Yeah ok it’s where the tourist hangs out but I am a tourist.

    La Boca is a poor neighbourhood. A word of warning stay in the tourist area of La Boca, don’t run risks by venturing out from the safe zone and watch out for pickpockets.

    Its mellow yellow Support the local artist Coffee culture Watch the Tango while you eat your lunch Did Diego Maradona play in this ground??
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    La Boca

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Mar 17, 2005

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    The taxi from the National Historical Museum had us in the tourist area of La Boca in only a few minutes time with my pocket only A$5 (US$1.80) lighter. However, the rain was still pouring down, so we just stood waiting it out beneath a large awning partially over the sidewalk in front of a restaurant.

    After about 10-15 minutes, the shower passed and people began to emerge onto the stone block streets of this famous neighbourhood. This was the site of the only port for Buenos Aires and it became the home of many poor Europeans during the influx of immigrants between 1860-1930. Many of these workers were Italians from Genoa, who re-established their own little community here in 'Little Italy'.

    Because this was a hard-working area full of immigrant labourers, housing was whatever you could make. This led to many innovative designs using sheets of zinc metal, or whatever else was at hand. A few coats of bright leftover ship's paint and there you have it, a very distinctive neighbourhood!

    Colourful La Boca
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    VISIT LA BOCA--THE ARTIST'S AREA

    by VeronicaG Updated Feb 4, 2008

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    The barrio of La Boca is colorful with its painted metal buildings and artwork lining the sidewalks. This area is known for the bright colors and lively themes of La Boca's artists.

    The Riachuelo River runs through the barrio and although it has a reputation for being filthy, there have been efforts to clean up the waterfront. La Boca is prone to flooding so the sidewalks are very high off the streets in some areas.

    The Boca Juniors soccer team calls La Boca home. The stadium is nicknamed Bombondera or "bon-bon". Stadium tours are given for a small fee and a great gift shop for sports enthusiasts is on site. There are numerous souvenir shops outside the stadium, also.

    The day we visited a group of young boys paraded down the street, entertaining the visitors with accordion music. They received tokens of appreciation from the spectators.

    The bright colors of La Boca! My son and daughter-in-law at La Boca
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    Mural Escanografico

    by Sonador3 Updated May 26, 2004

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    Every once in a while I would pass by this mural by bus or taxi, either on the way to or from La Boca. And I never stopped and took an extended look, mostly because I just chalked up to touristy kitsch. But after taking a walk around the Parque Lezama area, I wandered on over and snapped a few photos. And once you get a little closer, you get an idea of what it really is: a collection of recycled debris and material taken from the renovation of a conventillo (immigrant houses) located at Moreno and Balcarce. The building had 94 rooms, was originally built in 1880 and was one of the first of its kind in the city. So, this mural does have some historical significance. The photo you see is just one part as it's very difficult to get the whole thing. I've included other photos in my City Art travelogue.

    Mural
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    Who Is Watching You in La Boca?

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Sep 26, 2008

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    The hodge-podge of colours and disjointed buildings in La Boca made it a very interesting area to be in, especially since the sun decided to come out and throw some light on all those colours!

    The residents of this neighbourhood seem to relish coming up with odd-ball things to display, and this caricature sticking out of a window above one of the streets was my favourite! This part of La Boca is a real 'tourist trap' area, and many of the stores and shops had gimmicks of various kinds set up, such as full-size Tango dancer mock-ups where you could stick your face in the empty hole and have your photo taken. Speaking of which, there was also a live couple doing Tango performances and also photo taking sessions with willing participants (see my Local Customs tips for more details). We did not have any problems in our short time in La Boca, but many of the tourist guides still advise to stick only to this small part of La Boca for your own safety, especially at night. Better to be in a tourist trap area than to be mugged!

    Despite the rain, it was still quite humid and sticky and it was also close to 4 PM , so we decided to call it quits. Time for another taxi back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and then head for the International Airport.

    Ciao Argentina, it was an absolutely fantastic two weeks!!

    Someone Has a Vivid Imagination !
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  • Gypsystravels's Profile Photo

    La Boca a colorful place

    by Gypsystravels Updated May 6, 2009

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    We decided to visit La Boca one afternoon after spending the morning at Cementario Recoleta. We asked around and were told that the best way to get there would be the collectivo, so off we went to find the stop.

    We really didn't know what stop to get off, but the bus' last stop was La Boca, so we figured it was a good option. We were surprised when the bus driver dropped us off under a bridge pretty far from the city center, and it was here where we realized that of all the places we had visited while in Buenos Aires, La Boca had a larger amount of poverty.

    Once in the center of La Boca (which is Caminito) we noticed a big change. The buildings were so colorful, full of life and very well kept. The majority of the area was more of a tourist (trap) area than anything else. There were a few restaurants (prices so much higher), many shops to buy Argentinian trinkets and the wanna-be Tango dancers stopping you so you can take a pic with them (at a price).

    We spent about two hours in La Boca of which about an hour was spent just enjoying a few empanadas, a Quilmes and watching the "free-shows" that are hosted by the restauants (after the show the dancers came around collecting money while you were eating, so not quite free).

    Overall, La Boca was interesting, but not a place I would go out of my way to visit again when I visit Buenos Aires.

    Amazing colorful architecture Colorful building in Caminito Street market (Sunday) Many shops selling Argentinian goods Cute Pony and Alpaca with hats on :)
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    La Boca

    by Dabs Updated Apr 22, 2006

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    La Boca reminded me a lot of Olvera Street in Los Angeles, a place of some historical interest that has been "saved" by the almighty tourist dollar. La Boca was a shipyard, the city's original Little Italy and the tango originated here in the bordelos.

    It would be easy to dismiss La Boca as a tourist trap, our guidebook was so uncomplimentary that we almost didn't go, but our Cicerone guide took us there on the public bus so we got to see it without the throng of tourists from one of the city tours.

    Caminito is La Boca's most famous street, colorful houses line both sides of the street, the patchwork of colors comes from the days when the immigrants used the leftover paint from the shipping barges. Yes, there are bunches of little shops selling tacky tourist shlock, but mixed in is some pretty interesting art and a vivid history.

    Most of the things I've read about La Boca caution you about straying too far from Caminito or visiting La Boca at night so take heed should you head to this area.

    La Boca La Boca La Boca La Boca La Boca

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    La Boca

    by Constanza Written Apr 30, 2004

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    This is a contrasting port neighborhood with a very characteristic atmosphere: wood and metal low houses painted in very bright colors.

    The use of colour and the area’s artistic tradition, which is still in evidence today, was heavily influenced by Benito Quinquela Martín – one of Argentina’s most famous painters – who used his artwork as a form of social protest. His powerful images of this working-class neighbourhood can be seen at the recently renovated Museo de Bellas Artes Quinquela Martín, along with the work of other local artists.
    Wall paintings and sculptures ornament Caminito Street where you can find painters as well as dancers and singers performing tango music.

    In the XIX century this area was the settlement of genoese sailors and port workers who founded a friendly society structure that originated poets, musicians and plastic artists.

    You will be surprised by the typical canteens of La Boca where you can still enjoy traditional dishes while you listen to a tarantella or a nostalgic canzonetta.

    This barrio is best known for its football team, Boca Juniors, for whom the legendary Diego Maradona played, but also for its multi-coloured wooden and corrugated iron houses.

    The houses were built and painted by the resident dock-workers, of mainly Italian descent, who used leftover materials and paint from the ships. The most famous street, Calle Caminito, possesses the best of the painted houses and is where artists, street performers and tango dancers congregate daily.

    It is also worth exploring the temporary exhibits of Argentine artists at the modern Fundación Proa museum. Tango was developed in this neighbourhood and, in the 1920s, children from wealthy families would come here to dance the dance banned elsewhere in Buenos Aires.

    Many restaurants provide daily lunchtime tango shows for tourists.

    Typical Street in La Boca

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    Casa Amarilla

    by Sonador3 Updated May 24, 2004

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    Also known as the yellow house, it's located on the original location of Admiral Brown's house, right off the Paseo Colon. The building is a replica of the original dwelling and today houses the "Institute of Historical Investigations". It was inaugurated on May 22, 1983 on the anniversary of the birth of this brave, and I'm guessing not drunk, Irish Sailor

    The Yellow House
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    What you can do with a few cans of paint

    by TheWanderingCamel Written Sep 9, 2008

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    La Boca, renowned for its bright painted corrugated iron houses, is a tourist must-see, some might say a tourist trap, in BA. Be warned though - wandering too far away from the albeit very touristy strip of the Caminito and the immediate waterfront area in search of something more "authentic" is decidedly risky. The area is renowned as much for its crime as for its tango dancers and pavement artists.

    Traditionally the first stopping place of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, the Genoese fishermen among them are credited with introducing the custom of painting houses in a bright patchwork of colours as they used up the paint left over from painting their fishing boats. I'm not sure how many small fishing boats operate out of the harbour these days, but the custom prevails, though the brightest colours and freshest paint are reserved for the streets around the Caminito. The rate at which the tourist strip is expanding is noticeable too, as the old "conventillos" (tenement dwellings where whole families lived in single rooms) are being converted into new cafes, galleries, artists' ateliers, museums, bars and clip joints - all with the obligatory multi-coloured facades. The sound of the tango is everywhere, pavement artists jostle for room to set up their easels and parties of school children and tourists straggle through the streets taking in the sights and the sounds of what is a cross between an outdoor museum and a place where people live.

    The barrio is also renowned for its football team - Atletico Boca Juniors - famous the world over. Guided tours of their stadium and museum are on offer every day.

    Bridge buffs will want to take a closer look at the transporter bridge, the Puente Transbordador, across the Riachuelo whilst lovers of kitschy souvenirs will find plenty to tempt them in the shops that line the streets. It's all a bit seedy behind the bright paint and you don't have to go far to see the rust and the rubbish of what is still essentially a very poor part of the city. Catch the bus here from the centre and you'll pass shanties tucked under an overpass that wouldn't look out of place in the favellas of Rio.

    Outdoor museum House-painting La Boca-style La Boca back street Football rule! Crossing the river

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    La Boca

    by gueto Written Feb 3, 2004

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    La Boca neibourhood was a desolated place until beginning of 19th Century when the first immigrants arrived at the place and settled down. Most of them where originally from Genova, Italy. These families built modest houses and groceries.
    By 1895, La Boca was the 2nd most important neighbourhood having 17,000 Argentinians, 14,000 Italians, 2,500 Spanish and some other immigrants.
    One funny episode is that the immigrants from Genova took control of La Boca and sent a letter to the king of Italy saying that they had created the "Independant Republic of La Boca" and that they no longer where citizens of Italy. You can imagine that this situation finished very fast, when president of Argentina (at that time it was Julio Roca) arrived at the place and put a drastic end.
    Nowadays La Boca is visited by many tourists and local people bacause of its colourful and artisitic characteristics. It was and still is a place for tango, art, paintings and passion.
    Don't miss Caminito st.and drink a beer in any tavern that once used to be frequented by immigrants.
    Go as well to the "Museo de Bellas Artes" (Fine Arts Museum) where you can find number one Argentinian painter of la Boca, Benito Quinquela Martin.

    La Boca
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