Founded in the early 16th century, Buenos Aires was transformed from a colonial port into a cosmopolitan metropolis - the "Paris of the South" - by the cattle boom of the 1880s. As in the American West, boom was followed by bust. But that did not stop Buenos Aires from becoming the city it is today. With its air of haunted grandeur, Buenos Aires is a place of icy intellect and smoldering passion. It is a city where the elegant Colon Theater, one of the world's great opera houses, stands in counterpoint to the working class barrios that gave birth to the tango. Perhaps the city's enigmas and contradictions are best embodied by its two most famous citizens - the reclusive librarian and literary genius Jorge Luis Borges and the showgirl turned First Lady, Evita Peron.
The "Paris of the South" flaunts its European heritage. One of the pleasures of Buenos Aires is simply absorbing its charm and flavor, from Parisian-style confiterias - cafés - to the city's popular tango clubs.