Beautiful Bridge in Puerto Madero

July 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

El Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires’s business district

Crossing the diques (docks) to Buenos Aires’s elite district of Puerto Madero, you’ll undoubtedly spot one of BA’s most iconic structures: El Puente de La Mujer, or Woman’s Bridge. A beacon to all pedestrians, this elegant and sophisticated homage to women is one of the city’s most contemporary structures, curving over the waters of the Rio de la Plata.

BA bridge of the woman

[Photo credit: efava’s photostream//CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

The bridge was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, a pioneer of the Cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge. Open for pedestrian passage only, it was completed in 2001. You may (like I have) spend hours contemplating the angles and shape of the bridge, wondering which parts correspond to a literal representation of a woman or if it’s simply a conceptual nod to womanly grace and elegance. But actually it was named as such because the streets of Puerto Madero are all named for famous and important Argentine women; the architect likens the structure to the synthesis of a couple dancing tango (aha, now I see it!).

White Bridge Buenos Aires

[Photo credit: shell belle’s photostream//CC BY-NC 2.0

Puerto Madero is one of the only places in the city where you can see and enjoy the river. So head down to the restored docks on a beautiful day, and experience the bridge for yourself! If you’d like to see how it opens, you could wait around until a ship shows up, but that could be a long while (Puerto Madero is not the city’s functioning port, see below); why not just watch a video of the bridge open! It is particularly lovely all lit up at night, or on a windy day, with the brackish river water rippling below.

Puente de la Mujer Puerto Madero at night

[Photo credit: verovera78’s photostream//CC BY-NC 2.0]

Puerto Madero: from rags to riches

Because the Rio de la Plata river is so shallow, docking cargo ships was a challenge in the old days. Boats used to stop off shore and small crafts would bring passengers closer in, where high-wheeled carriages (or in some cases, slaves) carried passengers ashore. Puerto Madero was finally constructed as the port of the city, commissioned by Eduardo Madero in 1887. It was soon made obsolete, however, by the construction of the New Port (further North, on the waterfront beside the Retiro neighborhood) in 1926. From this point on, the region fell into decay and became one of the most derelict sectors of the city.

In the 1990’s, however, the city and national governments joined forces, attracting major local and foreign investment, to revamp the old port into Buenos Aires’s most chic and elite neighborhood. Old warehouses were converted into smart offices, lofts, restaurants, and the new space for the private Catholic university, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Argentina.

Green Buenos Aires Puerto Madero
[Photo credit: David Sasake’s photostream//CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

If it’s a hot day in Buenos Aires, this neighborhood is blessed with a revitalizing breeze. The docks are great for strolling, biking, or sightseeing; keep your eyes open for a crazy guy on roller blades, who skates up and down the block razzing tourists and making jokes. Next head into the Puerto Madero neighborhood itself, and saunter among the towers that house Argentina’s wealthy. Sip a luxury cocktail at the Faena Hotel + Universe before exploring one of our favorite regions of the city, the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve.

Read more about the history of Puerto Madero’s development on Wander Argentina, or check out some of the most beautiful pedestrian bridges in the world as rated by Travel + Leisure.

Location of Puente de la Mujer

Juana Manuela de Gorriti between Azucena Villaflor and Macacha Guemes
Puerto Madero

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

October 7, 2007 by · 8 Comments 

A quiet nature reserve just steps from the city

Viewpoint in the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

The hustle and bustle of the City Center are lost in the cooling mood of the only ecological reserve in the city, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur. A stone’s throw away from the trendy, modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero and you find yourself walking along the park’s boardwalk littered with nuzzling couples, parillas (steakhouses), and more pigeons than you can throw a stick at.

The Costanera Sur’s walkway borders the front of the reserve and from there you can see the greater landscape that opens up into the park. The boardwalk itself is entertaining, with beautiful architecture and sculptures, casual eateries and dozens of pickup games of futbol. Your initial examination of the swampy marshland is only an introduction to the many more birds and interesting views that await you upon entering.

Patio area in the Costanera Sur nature reserve

Buenos Aires grows its own ecological reserve

The city of Buenos Aires has seen its fair share of change over the years, and the history of the reserve is part of this constant transformation. During the city’s modernization in the mid-20th century, remnants of demolished buildings and construction debris were discarded into the Rio de la Plata. Gradually the debris, mixed with sand from the river began to create the marshy foundation for what is now the reserve. Soon, the plants began to grow, and not long after the birds followed. The ecological park is the result of this interesting history, and a great location for observing that fascinating border where city and country convene.

So although you may see more than a few empty bottles and wrappers that have been thrown all over the small concrete divider at the start of the boardwalk, just remember that debris and waste is the reason you’re there in the first place! And don’t worry, once inside, the heart of the park is much cleaner and well kept.

Nature consuming the city at the Costanera Sur?
[Photo Credit: jmpznz, under this CC licence]

Rent a bike to help explore the nature reserve

The park has two entrances. The main entrance is located on the southern side of the boardwalk and is an excellent place to rent a bicycle for the afternoon. This isn’t a bad way to go if you want to maximize your time bouncing around from view to view.

The entire walk around the reserve will take you more than an hour and that’s without stopping to peer through the reeds and to try and identify birds. The reserve offers several viewpoint stops that allow you a moment to pull out your binoculars and scan over the marshes that navigate through the wetlands. If you forget to bring your own, a few monedas (coins) will allow you a peek through the public binoculars that are placed along decks that skirt out over the marshlands.

Spectacular views with interesting backdrops

The views in the reserve are spectacularly endless. From the parks entrance a quick look back gives you a different view of the boardwalk with the city stretching up behind it. Wandering through the dirt laid paths are benches that offer a brief rest while you take in the quiet escape you’ve earned from your walk.

Perhaps most breathtaking are the views on the eastern side of the park. The Rio de la Plata borders this edge of the reserve and boats can be seen sailing in the distance. The air here is cooler and cleaner than in the busy city and the grassy areas for sitting are a great place to settle down for a relaxing view…

Costanera Sur View in Buenos Aires

This side of the reserve not only boasts amazing views of the river, but one of the best of the city. As you’ve chosen an afternoon away from the crazy downtown streets, it’s more than rewarding to see the city settled in the distance among a foreground of reeds and cattails.

Hide away from busy Buenos Aires down by the river

If you’ve entered the park from the south your walk continues past more scenes of the city and river. The river offers a true boardwalk where with some innovation and a keen eye you can find the entrance from inside the reserve and walk out along the river. On a hot day, or if you’re looking for a truer sense of solitude, this is one of the best hiding places in the city.

A closer look at the passing barges and water below will bring you even further away from the demanding pace of downtown. The northern side of the park offers many other surprises for those with a sharp eye. If you’re riding your rented bicycle too fast you may miss the small veterinary clinic and adoption center at the northern entrance of the park. Designed to offer veterinary assistance to the many birds that inhabit the reserve, you can see hawks and larger birds of prey that may usually be flying too high overhead for such a close examination. The small building also houses some wayward dogs that are now up for adoption; probably a better bet if you’re a Buenos Aires inhabitant rather than a traveler.

The Rio de la Plata as viewed from the Costanera Sur

The end of a relaxing day at the Costanera Sur, Buenos Aires

From here, you’ve almost completed your circle. Your choices of return are to take the northern exit and walk back using the footpath, stopping for any number of snacks along the way (sure to be meat). Or, heading back from inside the park instead gives you a chance to prolong your afternoon oasis and take in more of the reserve.

When you do in fact decide to head on out of the nature reserve, Puerto Madero and the water diques (canals) are your transition home. You’ve probably found yourself hours later and the countless restaurants and bars located here are a perfect way to end your afternoon, or begin your evening. Whether you’re a Buenos Aires native or first time visitor, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur is an ideal way to escape from the city without the headache of organizing day trips or the burden of their cost. Whether you’re a country mouse stuck in the city, or simply looking for an afternoon off, put this attraction near the top of your list.

Location of Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

Av. Tristán A Rodríguez 1550, near Padre M Migone, Puerto Madero

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