La Boca is much more than tango, a colorful pedestrian street and a soccer team. It is a neighborhood with a unique beat. It carries the weight of a very singular story: Italian immigrants -mainly from Genoa and Naples- artists and sailors were the main characters in the 19th Century. La Boca was a marshy area, frequently beaten by floods and fire, and it was a summary of what the port brought to its shore.
Regarding the name, it is precisely in that area where the Riachuelo flows into Río de la Plata
This is the case of the emblematic multicolored facades. In those days, tenement houses - old houses holding several families - were made of wood and corrugated plate, which were painted with the remains of paintings of different colors. The result? Vibrant, colorful and overlaid facades; and there is no better place than Garibaldi street to appreciate the typical architecture of that time.
The history of La Boca is present in each corner, each square, each pavement stone. Just walk by Almirante Brown Avenue to Plaza Lezama to admire its details. You will see a large wall which will surely catch your attention: it is a representation of a tenement house with several characters. Diego Maradona, painter Benito Quinquela Martín, Carlos Gardel and accordion player Aníbal Troilo are among the famous people there, but there are also other emblematic characters of the neighborhood, such as the prostitute, the immigrant and the firemen - La Boca Volunteer Fire Department is located on 567 Brandsen, a very interesting spot.
If you keep walking up the same avenue, in the intersection with Villafañe street you will see the Torre Fantasma (Ghost Tower), a building more than 100 years old. The story tells that the last floor was witness to the suicide of one of the tenants, the artist Clementina, and that the ghost still wanders around the area. A bit further, walking up, you will see “Casa Amarilla” (Yellow House), a replica of the house of Almirante Guillermo Brown, an Irish sailor and founder of the Argentine Navy, where the Brown Institute operates nowadays.
La Boca offers art, whether old or contemporary. Quinquela Martín Museum of Fine Arts, the old residency of the painter and muralist, is among the most important tourist spots of the neighborhood. Benito used to look through the window of his house and, with his characteristic naturalist style, he painted scenes of the port and work. He portrayed scenes of his beloved neighborhood, where he was born and died.
After the visit, you can look into the primary school which also operates there, and whose classrooms were painted by Quinquela Martin himself. Let your senses overflow and imagine the frenzy port activity in the old La Boca. To complete the mental image, visit the old Plazoleta de los Suspiros today called Vuelta de Rocha, which simulates a ship’s deck.
Want some more? If you are looking for contemporary art, visit Fundación Proa. With exhibitions worldwide - for instance, the 3D figures of the Australian Ron Mueck was among the most visited in 2013, and a well-stocked bookstore, the non-for-profit organization is located on Pedro de Mendoza Avenue.
Once there, you will inevitably end in the famous Caminito. This 150 m street is undoubtly among the most famous of the country. Named after the tango song whose music was composed by Juan de Dios Filiberto, it is literally an open air museum. Every day, there is an exhibition of plastic artists in the area, on a section where the railway tracks used to be and, before that, a stream. Living statues, caricatures and street musicians complete the vibrant snapshot that you will remember forever. There is art in La Boca, to cater every taste.
But there is also sports, and soccer fans know it very well. The Boca Juniors Stadium is a few meters away. With a capacity for more than 50,000 visitors, the “Bombonera” is among the most popular stadiums and the home of the club with more fans in Argentina. Boca Juniors Museum (Museo de la Pasión Boquense), located under one of the platforms of the stadium, complements the visit. However, no tour is complete if you have not visited one of the endless bars, canteens or old restaurants. But you do not need a guide for that: let La Boca surprise you.