Recoleta, where the line between vigorous excess and opulent eternity is thin, is one of Buenos Aires ’s most touristed barrios. In everyday usage, it’s the area in and around its namesake cemetery , but the sprawling barrio is bounded by Montevideo, Avenida Córdoba, Avenida Coronel Díaz, Avenida General Las Heras, and the Belgrano railway. Recoleta also encompasses much of Barrio Norte, a residential area of vague boundaries that extends westward from Retiro  and north into Palermo .
Once a bucolic outlier of the capital, Recoleta urbanized rapidly when upper-class porteños fled low-lying San Telmo  after the 1870s yellow fever outbreaks. Flanking the cemetery are the Jesuit-built baroque Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Pilar (1732) and one of the city’s top cultural centers, all surrounded by green spaces, including Plaza Intendente Alvear and Plaza Francia.
In a former skating rink, the Palais de Glais houses the Palacio Nacionales de las Artes (Posadas 1725, tel. 011/4804-1163, www.palaisdeglace.org , noon–8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. weekends, admission cost depends on the program), a museum with a steady calendar of artistic and historical exhibits, plus cultural and commercial events.
Four blocks north and a block west of the cemetery, architect Clorindo Testa’s Biblioteca Nacional (Agüero 2502, tel. 011/4806-4729, www.bibnal.edu.ar , 9 a.m.–9 p.m. weekdays, noon–7 p.m. weekends) is a concrete monolith on the grounds of the former presidential palace; the last head of state to actually live there was Juan Domingo Perón, along with his wife Evita(whose ghost, legend says, roams the hallways). The website has a regularly updated events calendar.
Writer Ricardo Rojas (1882–1957), who showed greater respect for South America’s indigenous civilizations than any other Argentine literary figure, lived at the Casa Museo Ricardo Rojas (Charcas 2837, tel. 011/4824-4039, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays,), and his house’s architecture communicates that respect. Admission includes guided tours conducted by motivated, congenial personnel.