Palermo is a neighborhood, or barrio of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. It is located in the northeast of the city, bordering the barrios of Belgrano to the north, Almagro and Recoleta to the south, Villa Crespo and Colegiales to the west and the Río de la Plata river to the east. With a total area of , Palermo is the largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. As of 1991 it had a population of 256,927 inhabitants (). It is the only barrio within the administrative division of Comuna 14.
The name of the district is derived from the still-existing Franciscan abbey of Saint Benedict of Palermo, an alternative name for Saint Benedict the Moor. Saint Benedict the Moor lived from 1526 to 1589 and is a complementary patron saint of Palermo, the capital city of Sicily. In an alternative history of the name, a folk story supported by journalists, the land would have been originally purchased by an Italian immigrant named Juan Domingo Palermo in the late 16th century, shortly after the foundation of Buenos Aires in 1580. Juan Manuel de Rosas built a country residence there which was confiscated after his fall in 1851.
The area grew rapidly during the last third of the 19th century and particularly during the presidency of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, responsible for the creation of the Buenos Aires Zoological Gardens and the Parque Tres de Febrero in 1874, and Plaza Italia and the Palermo Race Track in 1876, all on the grounds of what had been Rosas' pleasure villa.
During the 20th century, the Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens (1902), Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, the water purification building, several sport clubs, the Jardín Japonés ("Japanese Garden") and the Galileo Galilei Planetarium were erected.
Alto Palermo is downtown Palermo, the main shopping area and transport hub around Avenida Santa Fe. At its core is the Alto Palermo Shopping Centre, a large shopping mall. Villa Freud, based around Plaza Güemes, is a residential area known for its high concentration of psychoanalysts and psychiatrists, hence its name.
Palermo Viejo (Old Palermo) is, as its name implies, the oldest part. It runs from Avenida Santa Fe south to Avenida Córdoba, and from Avenida Dorrego east to Avenida Coronel Díaz. The neighborhood is centred on Plaza Palermo Viejo and reflects an older Spanish style in architecture, often "recycled" with modern elements. Such well-known figures as Jorge Luis Borges and Che Guevara once lived in this ward and indeed Borges first wrote poetry in the then quiet barrio. Borges's poem "Fundacion mitica de Buenos Aires" names a typical square (Guatemala, Serrano, Paraguay, Gurruchaga). It was historically a residential area, popular with communities from Poland, Armenia, Ukraine and Lebanon and old Spanish and Italian families, whose traditions are reflected in local restaurants, churches, schools and cultural centres.
Palermo Soho is a small area of Palermo Viejo around Plaza Serrano (officially Plazoleta Cortázar), and it is a newly fashionable area for fashion, design, restaurants, bars and street culture. The atmosphere in many cafés and restaurants strives to be alternative, which makes this area of the city especially popular with young, upper-middle class Argentines as well as foreign tourists. The traditional low houses have been adapted into boutiques and bars, creating a bohemian feel. The square has a crafts fair.
In the mid-nineties a number of TV and Radio producers installed themselves in the zone between Córdoba, Santa Fe, Dorrego and Juan B. Justo, Avenues. For that reason this part of the neighborhood began to be called "Palermo Hollywood". Presently, it's best known for the concentration of restaurants, nightclubs and coffee places.
Across Figueroa Alcorta Avenue, between San Martín de Tours and Tagle streets, Palermo Chico ("Small" or "Exclusive" Palermo) is the most upmarket part of Palermo. The Buenos Aires Museum of Decorative Arts is located in Palermo Chico, in a dazzling old palatial home. Neighbouring Barrio Parque is strictly a residential area, laid out in winding streets by Carlos Thays; many of the wealthy and famous own homes there. Once a quarter full of splendid mansions set in broad private parks, many luxury condominiums and apartment houses are now to be seen. MALBA, the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires, is located between Barrio Parque and the Paseo Alcorta shopping centre.
The Parque Tres de Febrero, popularly known as Bosques de Palermo ('Palermo Woods'), inspired by the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and the Prater (or Vienna Meadow) in Vienna, is the largest green lung in the city of Buenos Aires. With its Rosedal ('Rose Garden'), Andalusian Courtyard, huge artificial lake and beautifully landscaped promenades, this is one of the loveliest spots in the Capital.