Buenos Aires; a city at the top of its game

The Argentine Open Polo Championship, the world’s premier polo tournament is held annually in the center of Buenos Aires. Played in the suburb of Palermo, ‘La Catedral’, as it is known, is to polo as Wimbledon is to tennis or Keeneland is to horse racing and, as such, welcomes sports fans from around the world. Charley Larcombe rounds up the best chukkas, culture, and cuisine from the ‘Paris of South America’.

Charley Larcombe 11/15/2022

Buenos Aires. A city of swirling passions and unwavering beauty. A city that moves in a quickstep between romantic, neoclassical architecture and backstreet barrios daubed in vibrant street art. The 'Paris of South America' is an effervescent melting pot of cultures and global influence, uniting over the sizzle of asado and the taste of velvet-like Malbecs that laden the tables throughout the city.

Where soccer matches reduce grown men to tears, and the roars from the polo ground in Palermo on finals day of the Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo nigh on wake those sleeping in Cementerio de la Recoleta.

Argentina's capital is home to Campo Argentino del Polo (or La Catedral, The Cathedral as it is oft referred) which hosts this unrivaled polo tournament. Considered the most important polo championship on the planet, if you are seeking to attend just one polo event, look no further.

Que es el Campeonato Abierto de Polo?

Buenos Aires; a city at the top of its game

To see the sport played at its ultimate level, watching The Open or the Abierto from the grandstand at ‘La Catedral’ is a must. Inaugurated in 1893 as the River Plate Polo Championship, before continuing under its current moniker in 1923, it has been played every year since despite the threat of pandemic, flood, and war.

Organized by the Argentine Polo Association, it is now a 40-goal tournament meaning fans get to see the best-of-the-best line up against each other. In its nigh on 130-year history, it has been dominated by hallowed teams and players such as Juan C. Harriott’s Coronel Suarez throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Heguy family’s Indios Chapaleufú in the ‘90s and the latter historic battles between La Dolfina and Ellerstina.

This year, watch out for La Dolfina Saudi which sees Adolfo Cambiaso – who attained the illustrious 10 goal handicap at just 19-years-old – and his son Poroto join long-standing team members Juan Martin Nero and David ‘Pelon’ Stirling; the formidable line-up of the Pieres brothers and Hilario Ulloa as Ellerstina; and last year’s winners La Natividad. The final takes place on Friday the 2nd of December.

Want to give polo a go?

Buenos Aires; a city at the top of its game

Inspired by watching the high goalers? Time to pick up a polo stick for yourself at the exceptional Novillo Astrada family’s estancia, La Aguada just two hours outside of the city. Stay in the pink-hued walls of the main house, enjoy breakfast catching the cooling breeze and the scent of jasmine, and prepare for a lesson with experienced 10 goaler, Miguel Novillo Astrada.

They will take you through the rudimentary aspects of swinging the stick and connecting with the ball, basic riding skills, and introducing you to the initial elements of the sport. Before an asado lunch, you will have already enjoyed the thrill of the game, playing chukkas with your new polo-playing friends.

Buenos Aires; a city at the top of its game

So, where are we staying?

Treat yourself and stay at either of the grand dames of BA’s luxury establishments, the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt or Alvear Palace Hotel

Buenos Aires; a city at the top of its game

The former is a converted Beaux Arts mansion which boasts a glorious entrance and rooms housed in a separate limestone tower connected by an underground lobby lined with a seen-to-be-believed collection of Latin American masterpieces. The latter’s upper floors boast arguably the best views in the city with sweeping vistas of Recoleta’s plazas and parks and, on a good day, the border of Uruguay.

What are we doing away from the grandstand?

Buenos Aires; a city at the top of its game

How about the drama and passion of a tango lesson or shopping for trinkets at the open air markets at Feria de San Telmo? You can also indulge in sampling the local street food such as the flaky delicious empanadas or devouring a buttery red steak – an Argentine diet staple after all – at Don Julio’s parrilla (grill)? Want to dine with the stars? Opt for the delicious Peruvian-Japanese fusion menu at Osaka.

For the sites, don’t miss the Cementerio de la Recoleta and seek out the tombs of Evita Perón and former presidents in the labyrinth of paths and walkways of one of the world’s most famous resting places and check out the exhibitions at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. For some downtime though, behave like a true local and enjoy mate – a traditional herbal tea – in the Bosques de Palermo on the banks of the Rio de la Plata.



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