What makes a great neighborhood? Some things are specific to personal taste and then there is the commonalities among the greats; It should be walk able, close to shopping, cafes, a good mix of things you need and want. It would have good access to transit, green spaces, parks and a warm community atmosphere.
My favorite neighborhood, the barrio that holds my deepest affection is Recoleta in Buenos Aries. What makes Recoleta so great? All of the fore mentioned with rich culture and history that make it unique.
Here are three things that make Recoleta special:
1. Recoleta Cemetery
Established in 1822, The Recoleta Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Buenos Aries. It spans four city blocks filled with 6400 ornate mausoleums. A city of aristocratic dead surrounded by a city so alive it’s incredible how quiet it is inside its imposing stone walls.
We spent an afternoon wandering the peaceful streets in this spectacular stone graveyard. Every alley lined with impressive stone sculptures and embellished marble tombs. Military heroes, dead presidents and influential politicians reside within the gates of this cemetery.
It is an architectural mêlée including pyramids, Greek shrines and massive marble herald angles. A bona-fide spectacle for the stories of its famous dead residents and enormous collection of extravagant mausoleums, you could visit this cemetery a hundred times and still discover something new.
2. The café culture
The thing we enjoyed the most in Recoleta was all the cafes, bakeries, mom and pop grocers were just a stone’s throw away from our apartment. A stone’s throw from every apartment in Recoleta actually. There was at least one of each in every block.
There was a bakery across the street our rental apartment. Rob would run out and grab delicious treats daily. The woman who worked at Yaiza Confiteria enjoyed Robs effort to speak Spanish, always making recommendations on what was best every time he visited. Everywhere we went cafes had tables out to entice customers to sit and relax.
It created an alluring social vibe that called us to go explore or sit on a patio and enjoy a beer or a coffee. We never had to wander far to try something new. People were always out and about the city hummed with social activity.
3. The sprawling plazas
One of the pleasant surprises about Buenos Aries and Recoleta specifically is the amount of tree-filled plazas that appear around so many corners. Sprawling amid high rises and historical buildings are gorgeous parks filled with bustling open-air markets, playgrounds and people appreciating fountains and sculpture.
One plaza we came across while exploring, Plaza Vincente Lopez appeared around a corner after a long day of walking in the city. It was such an inviting surprise it truly astounded me. It is a sprawling oasis amid European looking apartment buildings.
These three things and more lead to our love for Recoleta. Things we remember in neighborhoods growing up that haven’t existed for years succumbing to competition from big box stores and chain restaurants.
Where in the world do you hold near and dear? Is it your home town or somewhere far-flung that you pine for?