Saturday we explored Barracas, one of the southern barrios of Buenos Aires. It’s one of those places that most visitors to Buenos Aires never see unless they’re traveling securely in a tourist bus on the way to one of the tango shows; Señor Tango has a large and gaudy building in Barracas for its extravaganzas. Their only impression of Barracas may be that it’s full of squalor and old factories and warehouses. Actually, I get the idea that a lot of Porteños have that same impression.

After walking around Barracas on our own for five hours on Saturday we came away with a different perspective. Certainly there is an area that is lined with factories, particularly as you get close to the river which reeks of an infamous stench. A number of makeshift residences underneath the elevated railroad tracks also gives the barrio a rather questionable character. The name of the barrio doesn’t help either. The word “barracas” means “cabins, huts, shacks” and the barrio’s name refers to the 18th century warehouses near the river that stored leather and salted meat.

Yet, most of Barracas is a nice residential area with an interesting history that I’m beginning to learn. While I only know a meager part of the barrio’s past, I’ll be posting some photos and writings over the next few days about what we learned.

If you’re only in Buenos Aires for a few days or on your first visit, then you can safely skip Barracas. But, if you live here then get out of trendy Palermo and comfy Recoleta and get yourself down to one of the southern barrios for a few hours. If you’re hesistant about going by yourself, then Robert gives a walking tour of Parque Patricios, a barrio that neighbors Barracas. Borges was very fond of the southern barrios which for him most reflected the mythological nature of Buenos Aires that he sought to create through his literature.