When you walk through the towns of Argentina it is inevitable that at some point you will come across a square. Our cities are born and built around them. Nearby are schools, churches, the town hall… but there are others, especially those far from the town centres, that rely upon the personalities and stories of those who visit them.
I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have a strong childhood memory of being at one. This is because Argentineans can find green spaces at squares, as well as various games for kids to enjoy. Hammocks, slides, seesaws, carrousels, all brightly painted and their sounds inviting kids to come and play.
Families gather at them on Sundays and during the summer holidays. Women with their deckchairs and mate, the little ones with their footballs and, if there´s enough space, a kite. There, friendships are made that last forever. But these places don´t only belong to childhood. During your teens they are usually the scene for flirting and your first kiss, and where you go if you want to share secrets with your friends. In this sense it becomes a space somewhere between public and private, because as time passes it continues being both, but at the same time at one with all its memories.
And just as the seasons pass by in front of the squares, so does life. You go from a child having fun playing games, to a teenager being up to no good, to adulthood and bringing other kids to experience the magic you felt when you were young. (Most likely that when no one´s looking we´ll give into temptation and climb back into the hammock to feel like we´re flying again).
These places reflect the spirit of the community that surrounds them. Sometimes they are taken care of by their neighbours, who plant flowers and paint games or the walls with creative and colourful images. They are the home of various celebrations such as carnivals, championship victory parades, town anniversaries, cultural events and national holidays, amongst others.
By not being designed for tourists, but rather for the good of the community, it is where ´local colour’ is most genuine and evident.
Some of them include:
- Parque Las Heras (Palermo), surrounded by the streets of General Las Heras, Coronel Díaz, Jerónimo Salguero and Juncal.
- Plaza Jardín de los maestros (Recoleta) found between Marcelo T. de Alvear, Pizzurno and Paraguay.
- Plaza Francisco Canaro, situated in Cochabamba between Combate de los pozos and Sarandí. It is home to murales of the celebrated Patoruzú and is open from 8am until 9am in the summer.
- Plaza Conesa (Quilmes), surrounded by the streets of Conesa, Moreno, Lavalle and Colón.
- Plaza Ameghino in Parque Rivadavia, surrounded by Av. Rivadavia, Doblas, Beauchef and Rosario.
These probably don´t appear in tourist guides like the famous Plaza de Mayo or Plaza Congreso, with their towering monuments and statues of important figures of the country´s past. However they are spaces that show off the part of Latin American culture that perhaps goes unnoticed by those who visit them regularly. What unforgettable memories will they leave you with?