9 de Julio Avenue: The Widest Street in the World
Every major city in the world has a famous main avenue, for example, New York has 5th Avenue and Paris has the Champs Elysees. Buenos Aires is no exception and, like its steak sizes, the Porteños were generous in the size when constructing the main avenue, Avenida 9 de Julio. Named after the day of Argentina’s Independence on 9th July 1816, construction of the imposing avenue began in the 1930s and the avenue was finally completed in 1980, gaining the title of the widest street in the world!
This impressive, expansive avenue runs from about 1km west of the Rio de la Plata, stretching from the northern neighbourhood of Retiro, south to Constitution station. The chaotic 140m wide avenue has an unbelievable 12 lanes (6 in each direction), and is virtually impossible to cross in one go before getting caught by the traffic lights changing.
Avenida 9 de Julio is a vibrant attraction which you must visit whilst staying in Buenos Aires. As the traffic lights turn red, jugglers, fire eaters and other street performers begin their short shows in order to make a few pesos. However, within all this noise and energy you can enjoy the tranquillity of the small tree lined plazas and gardens which run the length of the avenue. Find a bench and pass some time soaking up the liveliness of Buenos Aires by watching the street performers, the frenzied traffic, or taking the opportunity to try and fit the whole of the avenue into one incredible panoramic photograph capturing all aspects of Buenos Aires life.
Running alongside of Avenida 9 de Julio are a number of landmarks and attractions. Here are our top 5 landmarks to see along Avenida 9 de Julio (located north to south):
1. The French Embassy
An architectural masterpiece with ornate balconies and a domed roof, the French Embassy is a perfect example of the European architecture which gave Buenos Aires the nickname of ‘‘The Paris of South America’’.
2. Teatro Colón
Considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Buenos Aires and one of the world’s top 5 best concert halls acoustically, the Teatro Colón has hosted many famous opera singers such as Luciano Pavarotti and Maria Callas, as well as world famous ballet dancers such as Rudolf Nureyev performing on the stage. If you get the chance whilst visiting Buenos Aires, you must go and see a performance at the theatre. Read more about buying tickets and visiting Teatro Colón.
At the very centre of the avenue where it crosses with Avenida de Mayo, is one of Buenos Aires’ most famous and recognised landmarks. The Obelisk, or Obelisco, is a 70m high, white, needle-like structure was constructed to commemorate Buenos Aires’ 400th Anniversary. Today it is the focal point for many Porteño celebrations and the starting point of many of the political demonstrations.
4. Avenida de Mayo
Two of the most important streets in Buenos Aires meet along 9 de Julio, where this wide avenue meets Avenida de Mayo. Running from Plaza de Mayo, Avenida de Mayo runs directly to the Parliamentary Congreso buildings making this intersection the starting point of the majority of political demonstrations that take place in Buenos Aires.
5. Don Quixote de la Mancha Statue
The statue was a gift from Spain in 1980 to celebrate Buenos Aires’ 400 year Anniversary. However, the statue has been at the centre of controversy as many artists and residents of Buenos Aires consider the statue to be ugly, poorly located and irrelevant to the history of Argentina. Make sure you pay a visit to this statue of controversy in Buenos Aires.Set aside some time in itinerary for Buenos Aires to walk down Avenida 9 de Julio to see some important landmarks along the widest avenue in the world. Just the sight of the street, especially around the Obelisco, is an attraction in itself!