Palermo is a large area consisting of multiple sub-neighborhoods. There is the old residential section, Palermo Vieja, to the east, the hip Palermo Soho (named for its edgy resemblance to the New York neighborhood) to the west, and, a bit further north, the emerging Palermo Hollywood area (for its television and film industries). And this does not even include the wide swath of Palermo that, as discussed in another blog, is devoted to parks, museums and recreational facilities.
Palermo Vieja, SoHo and Hollywood
Palermo Vieja is an interesting, still transitional” largely residential neighborhood, along Avenida J.L. Borges, that is in the process of being gentrified. The real activity is bit further north, around Plaza Cortazar. The plaza, especially on a weekend, is busying with people walking, sitting in cafes and milling around the art and clothing stalls. The square in particular, and the Palermo SoHo neighborhood in general, is filled with renovated homes, restaurants, al fresco cafes and trendy boutiques. Overall, a very pretty area.
Palermo Hollywood is a somewhat more ragged, less developed, less gentrified version of SoHo. Fun, but not with quite the same vibe. It too, however, has begun to attract some quality restaurants, such as Tegui (see the blog of Buenos Aries restaurants).
Palermo Parks and Museums
Although the city does not have all that many small parks, the eastern sections of the northern neighborhoods, which stretches from the northern part of Recoleta through Palermo and into southern reaches of Belgrano, is practically wall-to-wall park.
We spent more than six hours walking the parks and exploring the museums around Avenida del Libertador. The National Fine Arts Museum (Bellas Artes) does provide a tiny sampling of the world’s art, with particular focus on classic Latin American and Impressionist pieces. Although fine for what it is, don’t expect a New York, D.C. or Paris-class museum. The Floralis Generica sculpture across the street is a giant image of a rose than opens and closes in relation to the sun.
After a stroll along Buenos Aries’ embassy row, we arrived at the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, a beautiful renovated mansion that used to house one of the country’s true first families (the Alvera family that produced some of the country’s earliest presidents and most influential legislators and professors), is now a beautiful museum that includes many of the family’s own paintings and decorative pieces. It is indeed a lovely museum. Meanwhile, the mansion’s gatehouse has been converted into the perpetually packed, Croque Madame Cafe (see restaurant blog), a lovely spot for a snack, a meal or and afternoon drink.
The Museo we’d Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aries (MALBA) is, in our mind, the highlight of the city’s park circuit. The lovely modern building is filled with a sampling of some of the continent’s most provocative modern and contemporary art. Although it has a small sampling of the internationally-known artists of whom many of us know (including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Fernando Botera), it provides a nice showcase of work from artists who man North Americans have never heard of. Some of the museum’s “participatory art”, such as benches and a room with a light show, are especially fun.
Further north in the park, is the rather disappointing (except for the largest koi we have ever seen) Japanese garden and across the street, the lovely (and free) El Rosedal. This is large, beautifully landscaped rose garden that is sprinkled with public art and numerous attractive seating areas. And for those with a more athletic bent, there are bike paths, rollerblading courses and a large pond with foot pedal-powered boats for rent.
Although the park has a number of other museums (Argentinean folk art, planetarium, etc.) and attractions (including a polo field and a horse race track), we simply ran out of time.