Palermo: Mixed Emotions

Although appearing as one big swath on the official map, Palermo can be subdivided into several contrasting and acutely individual parts, the most clearly delimited of which may be considered further de facto neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

Palermo Viejo (Old Palermo) is, as its name implies, the oldest part. Bounded by Avenida Santa Fe, Avenida Coronel Díaz, Avenida Córdoba and Carranza street, the neighborhood is centred on Plaza Palermo Viejo and reflects an older Spanish style in architecture, often "recycled" with modern elements. Such well-known figures as Jorge Luis Borges and Che Guevara once lived in this ward and indeed Borges first wrote poetry in the then quiet barrio. The Borges's poem "Fundacion mitica de Buenos Aires" names a typical square (Guatemala, Serrano, Paraguay, Gurruchaga). It was historically a residential area, popular with communities from Poland, Armenia, Ukraine and Lebanon and old Spanish and Italian families, whose traditions are reflected in local restaurants, churches, schools and cultural centres.

Palermo Soho is a small area of Palermo Viejo around Plaza Serrano (officially Plazoleta Cortázar), and it is a newly fashionable area for fashion, design, restaurants, bars and street culture. The atmosphere in many cafés and restaurants strives to be alternative, which makes this area of the city especially popular with young, upper-middle class Argentines as well as foreign tourists. The traditional low houses have been adapted into boutiques and bars, creating a bohemian feel. The square has a crafts fair.

Across Figueroa Alcorta Avenue, between San Martín de Tours and Tagle streets, Palermo Chico ("Small" or "Exclusive" Palermo) is the most upmarket part of Palermo. The Buenos Aires Museum of Decorative Arts is located in Palermo Chico, in a dazzling old palatial home. Neighbouring Barrio Parque is strictly a residential area, laid out in winding streets by Carlos Thays; many of the wealthy and famous own homes there. Once a quarter full of splendid mansions set in broad private parks, many luxury condominiums and apartment houses are now to be seen. MALBA, the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires, is located between Barrio Parque and the Paseo Alcorta shopping centre.

Las Cañitas was historically a slum area but is now an upmarket area of restaurants and bars next to the Campo Argentino de Polo in the extreme north of Palermo. The King Fahd Islamic Cultural Centre was built in the 1990s by the Polo fields.

The Parque Tres de Febrero, popularly known as Bosques de Palermo ('Palermo Forests'), inspired by the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and the Prater (or Vienna Meadow) in Vienna, is the largest green lung in the city of Buenos Aires. With its Rosedal ('Rose Garden'), Andalusian Courtyard, huge artificial lake and beautifully landscaped promenades, this is one of the loveliest spots in the Capital.