West of central Buenos Aires a vast, mostly residential area spreads out for over a dozen kilometres towards Avenida General Paz. Sights here are scattered; perhaps the neighbourhoods’ greatest appeal lies in their relative lack of tourists, offering a prize glimpse into the lives of ordinary working- and middle-class Porteños. Architecture fans shouldn’t miss the stunning Palacio de las Aguas Corrientes in the barrio of Balvanera, the neighbourhood just south of Recoleta. Northwest of Palermo, the barrio of Chacarita is best known for its namesake cemetery, where tango singer Carlos Gardel is buried. Caballito, right in the heart of the city, has an entertaining natural history museum. Finally, right at Buenos Aires’ fringes, the hugely enjoyable gaucho fair, the Feria de Mataderos, provides one of the best days out in the city.
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Feria de Mataderos
Feria de Mataderos
The Sunday Feria de Mataderos is a celebration of Argentina’s rural traditions. This busy fair attracts thousands of locals and tourists for its blend of folk music, traditional crafts and regional food such as locro, empanadas and tortas fritas, mouthwatering fried cakes. You can also try your hand at regional dances such as the chamamé and chacarera. The undoubted highpoint, however, is the display of gaucho skills in which riders participate in events such as the sortija, in which, galloping at breakneck speed and standing rigid in their stirrups, they attempt to spear a small ring strung on a ribbon. Take plenty of cash – the artisan wares here are often good quality and cheaper than in the central stores, but the stallholders do not take credit cards – and make sure the fair is actually on before setting out, as it sometimes closes or moves to Saturday evenings, especially during the summer months; the city’s tourist kiosks should be able to advise.