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Buenos Aires' physical structure is a mosaic as varied and diverse as its culture. The city has no dominating monument, no natural monolith that serves as its focal point. Instead, Buenos Aires is composed of many small places, intimate details, and tiny events and interactions, each with a slightly different shade, shape, and character. Glass-sheated skycrapers cast their slender shadows on 19th century Victorian houses; tango bars hazed with the piquant tang of cigar smoke face dusty, treasure-filled antique shops across the way.

The city's neighbourhoods are small and highly individualized, each with its own characteristic colors and forms. In the San Telmo district, the city's multinational heritage is embodied in a varied and cosmopolitan architecture. Spanish Colonial design couples with Italian detailing and graceful French Classicism. La Boca's pressed tin houses are painted a rainbow of colors, and muralists have turned the district's side-streets into avenues of color.

For all its diversity, the elusive spirit of Argentina as a country is present everywhere in Buenos Aires. The national dance, the tango, is perhaps the best expression of that spirit-practiced in dance halls, parks, open plazas, and ballrooms, it is a dance of intimate separation and common rhythm, combining both an elegant reserve and an exuberant passion.

 

BUENOS AIRES