La Boca is a neighbourhood located in the city of Buenos Aires, at the mouth of Riachuelo River (which flows into the River Plate). The neighbourhood’s name derives precisely from this location, given the fact that it’s found at the mouth of Riachuelo River. It belonged to the city’s harbour for many years, serving as an attraction spot for some European immigrants who were looking for a job. The harbour only changed its location to the city’s northern many years later.
By the end of the 19th century, an Italian community (particularly from the city of Genoa) began to settle itself in the area, something that happened later with immigrants from Spain, Greece, Germany and France. La Boca was at the time a working-class neighbourhood, serving those who worked at the harbour.
In 1882, there were so many people from Genoa that they made to decision to notify the King of Italy of the fact that they were establishing the La Boca Republic. The then president of Argentina saw this news and removed the Genovese flag from the neighbourhood.
The neighbourhood holds a unique architecture, with houses made of wood and zinc, leftover materials from shipbuilding. The same happened with paintings, which were used to colour the houses. This is the reason why they are so colourful and different from each other.
In 1950 a group of neighbours of La Boca decided to recover an abandoned zone, where trains used to pass. Benito Quinquela Martín, the famous Argentinian painter, was one of the elements of that group.
A couple of years later, the government built a street museum, naming it Caminito, the name of a popular tango. The houses made of zinc and wood were painted with vibrant colours: yellow, red, blue, orange.
The artistic community of Buenos Aires started to reside in this gorgeous setting in order to exhibit their works. As time moved on, Caminito became famous for its artists, for those looking for a bohemian lifestyle and for its tourists.
The foundation of Clube Atlético Boca Juniors was concatenated by 5 teenagers, the children of Genoese immigrants who happened to inhabit the neighbourhood of La Boca. It happened in 1905.
Regarding the choice of the club’s colours, they decided they would adopt those of the first docked ship in the following day. The first ship to arrive was Swedish, painted in yellow and blue. And these are still the club’s colours in the present day.
Boca Juniors played for several years in different venues, until having their own stadium. Its construction posed an enormous challenge, giving the club’s poor financial status, stripped of the ability to buy a large piece of land for having it built in La Boca.
During its construction, the architect held accountable for the project was gifted a bonbon box, which, in his opinion, resembled the stadium. From that moment onwards, he started to call the stadium Bombonera. It is still known as such.
La Boca is a typical neighbourhood of Buenos Aires and holds several reasons to justify a visit. Several Argentines, with whom I talked to, warned me that it is actually a dangerous location, where many robberies take place and that I shouldn’t go there (without being part of an organised group).
But the fact that I’m a bit experienced already when it comes to travelling always helps to play down such information, and so I decided to visit it. I walked through the neighbourhood, walked by La Bombonera and explored the Caminito area. This street is very touristy, but in all honesty I think it’s worth it.
When you visit Buenos Aires, do not miss it. Seeing this history-packed place is totally worth it.