Glamorous and gritty, Buenos Aires is two cities in one. What makes Argentina's capital so fascinating is its dual heritage-part European, part Latin American. Plaza de Mayo resembles a grand square in Madrid, and the ornate Teatro Colon would not be out of place in Vienna. But you'll know you're in South America by the leather shoes for sale on cobbled streets and impromptu parades of triumphant soccer fans. Limited-production wines, juicy steaks, and ice cream in countless flavors are among the old-world imports the city has perfected.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. The world's largest collection of Argentine art is contained in this neoclassical wine-colored building. It also houses many lesser works by big-name European artists from the 12th through 20th centuries and hosts several high-profile temporary exhibitions per year.
War and peace. Candido Lopez painted the panoramic battle scenes with his left hand after losing his right arm in the 1870s during the War of the Triple Alliance. His work spearheaded contemporary primitive painting and is showcased in Gallery 23. Local master Eduardo Sivori's tranquil landscapes (in Gallery 24) portray less turbulent times.
European masters. A whole room (Gallery 8) is given over to Goya's dark, disturbing works. Nearby are minor works by El Greco, Rubens, Tiepolo, Titian, and Zurbaran. The room behind the entrance hall (Gallery 10) contains Rodin sculptures. The right wing includes paintings by Manet, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Gaugin, and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Teatro Colón. Its magnitude, magnificent acoustics, and opulence earn the Teatro Colón (Colón Theater) a place among the world's top five opera theaters. An ever-changing stream of imported talent bolsters the well-regarded local lyric and ballet companies.
The theater's sumptuous building materials—three kinds of Italian marble, French stained glass, and Venetian mosaics—were imported from Europe to create large-scale lavishness. The seven-tier main theater is breathtaking in size, and has a grand central chandelier with 700 lights to illuminate the 3,000 mere mortals in its red-velvet seats.