Microcentro – Puerto Madero – Retiro

Posted by on May 5, 2013

Microcentro – Puerto Madero – Retiro

These are the big business districts of Buenos Aires. My first and only experience of Puerto Madero was a shock because I walked from San Telmo up the Plaza de Mayo and over the Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of the Woman) to Puerto Madero. It was like diving into cold water. One moment I was traipsing through narrow cobbled streets lined with trees and dotted with lamp posts – the next I was crossing the ten lane Avenida Eduardo Madero and staring at an indecent amount of steel and glass.

There she was, stretched out over the harbour with her spike pointing towards the sky – El Puente de la Mujer (The Bridge of the Woman). Bridge is actually a masculine noun in Spanish so it is somewhat confusing in this instance, but either way, it is an eye-catching erection at 6.2 meters wide and 170 meter in length. Purportedly constructed in the image of a couple dancing tango, it is fitting that the mid-section of the bridge, supported by the mast and steel cables, can rotate – allowing ships to pass. I failed to see this encoded imagery.

Puerto Madero and Puente de la Mujer


Now I think many of the women of Argentina are very beautiful, but there was nothing beautiful about Parque Mujeres Argentinas – modern skyscrapers surged upwards  around this immaculately maintained green space, so politically correct, wheelchair accessible and just horrible. People pay lots to live here, and I say let them pay; I certainly would not be among them. I didn’t linger, not even for lunch, but escaped back over the Puente de la Mujer. That was my brief visit to Puerto Madero.

When one wanders from the Obelisk or down from Retiro through Microcentro in the direction of San Telmo, one passes the Plaza de Mayo; kilometre zero of Buenos Aires and home to the National Bank, Department of Economics, Casa Rosada, Catedral de Buenos Aires and the Town Hall. The buildings are bigger, more columns and vast facades than anywhere else. The national bank looks like the bank in Mary Poppins – when I saw it the music comes to mind! When coming up one sunny Sunday afternoon from San Telmo, I saw a street performance of Middle-eastern dance and music performed on a stage covering the entire Avenida de Mayo that leads away from the Plaza. It was one of the events sponsored by the City of Buenos Aires along with an international film festival (BAFICI), which I went to the opening of and saw the Chilean film ‘No’ directed by Pablo Lorrain that tells the story of the ad-agency responsible for creating the 15 minutes of promotional material for the ‘No’ vote, that is to say, the vote against the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Plaza de Mayo


Avenida 9 de Julio is the widest avenue in the world and it is Buenos Aires’ main north-south thoroughfare. The centre, where Avenida Corrientes crosses this massive avenue, is marked by ‘El Obelisco’. Obelisks are in fashion it would seem, and where the avenues of Paris lead outwards from the Arc de Triomphe, Buenos Aires placed a white phallus at its heart which can be seen down many avenues and even from the Plaza de Mayo. This fact was not lost on the Porteños (those of Buenos Aires) who fitted it with an appropriately sized condom for World AIDS Day in 2005. It is neither the most impressive structure, nor situated in a beautiful part of the city.



The train station at Retiro is enormous. It’s actually three terminals, Retiro-Tigre; the largest, busiest terminal, Retiro-Belgrano houses other lines and the smaller Retiro-San Martín. Many of the city’s metropolitan busses pass in front of the train terminals and next to this seething hub of activity the biggest bus terminal in Buenos Aires. Given the central role Retiro plays in Buenos Aires’ transportation systems, it’s no surprise it’s as large as it is. In front of the terminals the Plazas Canadá, Fuerza Aérea Argentina and the well known Plaza Libertador General San Martín house statues and towers to various significant military peoples who contributed to Argentina’s bloody and violent history, all immortalised in stone and surrounded by trees and park benches.

Walking towards Recoleta from Retiro is pretty, one passes through a more affluent part of the city, crossing Avenida 9 de Julio, and finding charming little spots such as the Plaza Cataluña, beneath flowering trees – it was featured in the post on Recoleta.