One of Buenos Aires’ most popular travel wonders is the colourful and energetic borough (barrio) of La Boca; a somewhat rundown area inhabited and built up by Italian immigrants over 100 years ago. Though overcrowded with tourists, buses, snapping cameras and vendors flogging tacky souvenirs, La Boca’s magnetic appeal is captured in the vividly painted narrow street, Caminito (literally, little camino or little street).

This haven for photographers has an enchanting history. Originally settled in the late 1800s by wharf workers from Genoa, it seemed practical to settle in the port suburb of La Boca. Being poor, they built shared housing (conventillo) from discarded materials such as wood and corrugated iron scrounged from around the warehouses. Elevated from the ground to avoid occasional floods, the conventillos were long narrow houses with small private rooms running off a central large patio area. To further save money, the houses were painted in a patchwork quilt of colour, using a variety of leftover paints from the shipyards.

Today, most of this original character has gone but Caminito was recreated as a project by successful Argentine artist, Benito Quinquela Martin, whose fame derived from the crusty and character-filled illustrations of old La Boca. Turning Caminito into a pedestrian walkway and encouraging budding artists to populate the area, Martin rebuilt this alleyway to capture traditional La Boca in all its vibrancy.

Today, stunningly dressed couples entrance the tourists and encourage tips, passionately dancing the tango to pulsing rhythms and reviving the musical culture of past times. As you overlook the conventillos, it is easy to picture families getting together on the shared patios after a hard day’s work, playing their musical instruments and singing and dancing the night away. Cleverly, Caminito was also named after an original and popular piece of Tango music written by a famous resident of La Boca from the early days of the 1900s.

For more passion, nothing beats the rampant enthusiasm from the blue and yellow-clad supporters of the local football (soccer) club La Boca Juniors, who bred such legendary superstars as Diego Maradona, considered by some to be the finest player of all time (he shared the award of the world football association’s Player of the Century). His mural dominates walls throughout the barrio.

Like in many cities, if you wander a short distance from Caminito, you are a chance of discovering some fine paintings and crafts (especially, the colourful hand-woven shawls) at good prices and maybe get an opportunity to garner a more authentic experience of this bustling working-class district.

So while Caminito is highly commercial and touristy, it warrants a jaunt south from the European splendour of central Buenos Aires to experience the unusual history, a strong coffee at one of the street-side cafes and a chance to snap a few photos of the kaleidoscopic houses which line this lively cobbled street museum.

Photo Source: Football

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16 Responses to Colourful Caminito (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

  • previously.bitten says:

    your vibrant photographs work wonders at drawing viewers into the – seemingly – foreign world.

  • Ben says:

    Nice work, I loved Boca! Your photos are amazing, they make mine look pretty weak! :-)

  • Footsteps says:

    What a charming community that must have been pre-tourist days! Hopefully, there are still a few neighbors sharing musical evenings…
     
    Your photos are terrific and really give a sense of the area.

  • jON says:

    I love the way the homes are painted with multiple colors. Granted it may look like just the basic Crayola crayons were used.

  • Mark H says:

    @previously bitten and @ben: Thank you

    @footsteps: I hope there are still elements of original life there. It did feel a bit more like a museum offering however to me.

    @Jon: They do seem to only have 12 bright colours to pick from. Maybe it is Crayola inspired.

  • Gennaro says:

    Beautiful colors. Few cities would get away with that. Not surprising it’s in South America. Brazil is the other place that would be ideal for it.

  • Mark H says:

    @gennaro: I guess some places do suit bright colours well. These certainly seem to suit the location.

  • Lara Dunston says:

    Buenos Aires is one of my most favorite cities in the world. We spent over 2 months there last year researching the Buenos Aires Encounter guide for Lonely Planet and loved every second it. The Caminito has been spruced up now, though, fresh paint splashed on every building, and full of tourists by day, but decidedly dodgy at night. Loved seeing the football too – amazing experience!

  • Stella Stopfer says:

    Love the story! We can all see why it’s heaven for photographers…it would be great to take photos of people (life) with it as a stage, as a background. Buenos Aires is one of my priorities outside Europe.
    Thanks!

  • Mark H says:

    @lara: Two months in BA – how great that must have been.

    @stella: It is kind of a theatric place anyway!

  • Jessie V says:

    GORGEOUS colors!! wow!

  • Mark H says:

    @Jessie: The colours are amazing, aren’t they. And pretty much all for tourists now!!!

  • Ryan says:

    Hey, last year I went to Argentina and really enjoyed it. People there are so passionate about Tango and Soccer. It was amazing.
    I had the best of times!

  • Sherry Ott says:

    Like a rainbow come to life! I hope to get there to get some photos myself. Great info on the area.

  • Ian Bryce says:

    One of the colorful sides of Buenos Aires… I wish to visit Argentina too!

  • Mark H says:

    @ian: Touristy but photogenic place in BA.

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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