Tour of Teatro Colon and La Boca, Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is filled with cultural spots and activities like the well-known tango clubs, San Telmo market, Recoleta cemetery, and beautiful and gritty La Boca. Buenos Aires most posh cultural icon is the Teatro Colon, an opera house built in the early 1900s. While the tough neighborhood of La Boca and Teatro Colon are separated by socioeconomic levels, they are both the best of Buenos Aires and provide a contrast into what makes Buenos Aires a great city.
Buenos Aires is broken up into many different neighborhoods called barrios, each with their own style and history. La Boca began as an Italian immigrant colony in the 1800s and is now home to the famed blue and yellow Boca Juniors.
Beautifully painted buildings line El Caminito, the street where music, tango, and street art markets abound. Two years ago when I was in La Boca, three of my friend bought art from the stalls. Since I was at the beginning of a longer journey with my backpack, I couldn’t buy anything and was bummed about it.
But this time I bought 4 prints for about $10 each from the same artist I was looking at buying from last time. This was also the beginning of my trip in Argentina and Brazil but I had a suitcase versus a backpack this time and the trip is much shorter- 2 weeks versus 2 months.
Wandering around El Caminito and taking photos is enough action for me. There are restaurants and lot of little stores for tourists but the brightly painted buildings are exciting enough for me.
My lovely cab driver who drove me to La Boca warned me about using my phone and to beware of thieves. La Boca has a higher petty crime rate than other barrios in Buenos Aires. I’ve never had a problem here but be alert as you would anytime you are in a big city.
My favorite little alley/nook in La Boca:
But definitely don’t sleep on La Boca. It is the most interesting neighborhood in Buenos Aires and worth spending an afternoon wandering the streets to see both the soccer stadium and El Caminito for all your art, color, and tango needs.
A world away from La Boca, located in the Corrientes Theater District near the central business district area, Teatro Colon offers tours in English and Spanish every hour. I hopped on one of the English versions after paying the hefty entrance fee. (close to $20). Once inside, I was all about the ceilings of the entry hall.
Since tours are capped and spaced out, there was no one milling about during our tour to distract us. Taking in the amazing architecture and stained glass was a full-time job.
Our tour guide was an opera singer and demonstrated a few bars to show off the amazing acoustics of Teatro Colon.
Modeled after the Versailles Hall of Mirrors, there are smaller musical venues within the theater as well.
The main stage was getting set up for the first opera of the season in a few weeks (which I’m sure got put on hold due to COVID-19) so we got to see some action from the set builders.
The ceiling is pretty but even more neat is the fact that some musicians will sit up there and play when acting as an angel, voice of God, etc. during performances. There are a ring of seats up there!
Last time I was in Buenos Aires, I missed out on the Teatro Colon tour. This visit I made sure to do it before I left and I’m very glad I made the time.
Teatro Colon and La Boca were my two favorite places in Buenos Aires this trip. The sophisticated theater is a gorgeous space and shows the contrast of wealth when comparing it with a different barrio like colorful but down and out La Boca
Reader Question: Have you ever been to the opera (anywhere)? What did you think of it?