A visit to any country in South America will not be complete without exploring Street Art and Grafitti — it brings to light many controversial subjects and turmoils the counties have been through. Street art here is embraced and even encouraged. Here are some of the best spots to find street art in South America:
Where to find the Best Street Art in South America
Street Art in Mendoza, Argentina
Contributed by Talek Nantes from Travelswithtalek
Mendoza, Argentina is wine country. It is the capital of Mendoza province in north-central Argentina. The city has the Andes on the east eastern side and stretches to the Pacific Ocean on the west. It is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country and it packs a punch in terms of culture and food but especially wine.
Many visitors come to Mendoza to taste the exquisite wines, visit wineries and experience the tastings. Mendoza was awarded the 8th Wine City of the World in 2005 and its reputation as a major player continues to grow particularly for Malbec wines.
The Malbec was transported from France where it was a second-rate wine to Mendoza where it flourished with the ideal soil and weather of Mendoza. The city is so invested in the wine culture that even its remarkable street art reflects the industry. Here a lizard takes a sip of Malbec in downtown Mendoza.
Street Art in Ushuaia, Argentina
Contributed by Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad
Ushuaia, Patagonia sits at the end of the world – el fin del mundo – at the southernmost tip of Argentina in South America. The dusty industrial town is a major shipping port for Tierra del Fuego on the Beagle Channel near the infamous Cape Horn. Ushuaia is a base for local adventure travelers who hike the National Park here or jump off to explore Antarctica.
It’s a quirky antarctic place, with cluttered streets filled with tour hawkers, local markets, and the kind of urban art that makes you stop and take notice. It’s a different kind of street art, born from struggle, protest, and pain. It seems to reflect life in this part of Argentina, and the past and present hardships suffered by many who live here.
Ushuaia has a gritty feel and its remote location at the end of the world makes you wonder if it’s even more forgotten by a country that’s been known to lose touch with its people. The most poignant example I found was of the Desaparecidos – “the disappeared”. This long harrowing nightmare following a coup in 1976 affected thousands of Argentine families, when a military junta seized power in the country and went on a campaign to wipe out alleged left-wing terrorism. Thousands of citizens disappeared in the middle of the night, and never returned.
If you find yourself in Argentine Patagonia, spend a day exploring the street art in Ushuaia. Your heart will never be the same.
Street Art in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Contributed by Noel Morata from TravelPhotoDiscovery
You can find amazing street art all over Sao Paulo, a city of over 12 million people in Brazil, South America. The street art here is a combination of graffiti, tagging and official street art or murals that you will find all over the city. The most colorful and in abundance is in the area of Madalena which is a trendy and fun area to explore.
There are a few alleys in the district which is filled with popular street art from local artists in the area, although the entire neighborhood is filled with street art along with cool galleries and shops, bars and eating venues. If you are exploring Sao Paulo for a few days of more check out my post on free things to do in Sao Paulo here for more details and inspiration of places to see and do in the city.
Street Art in Rio, Brazil
Contributed by Nicole LaBarge from Travelgal
Rio may be known for its beaches but it is also a city full of street art. My favourite piece is by Eduardo Kobra, a world renowned Brazilian graffiti artist. It is actually the largest street art mural in the world and it can be found at Rio’s Olympic Boulevard.
The work depicts a Tajapo boy from Brazil, a Mursi woman from Ethiopia, a Kayin woman from Thailand, a Supi man from Northern Europe, and a Huli man from Papua New Guinea. They represent humanity’s common ancestors and is over 32,300 square feet. Rio’s Olympic Boulevard is along the waterfront by the Museum of Tomorrow and the Te Amo Rio sculpture.
Street Art in Bogotá, Colombia
Contributed by Ingrid Truemper blogs from Second-Half Travels
Colombia’s formerly crime-ridden capital Bogotá has been reborn as a vibrant tourist destination as well as an internationally famous mecca for urban art. Graffiti and street art were decriminalized several years ago, resulting in an explosion of creativity. Urban artists come from all over the world to participate in Bogotá’s thriving street art scene. Over 6,000 murals adorn the city, with more being added constantly. The city even holds an annual street art competition; the winner is granted a wall and the materials needed to create a massive work of art.
Street art can be found throughout the city, including downtown, but the historic center of La Candelaria is ground zero. Businesses in La Candelaria frequently commission urban artists to decorate their walls with murals, and its narrow, cobblestoned streets burst with bright color.Don’t miss the popular free Graffiti Tour (donations requested) of La Candelaria for an insightful introduction to the area. This is the original Bogotá street art tour and is run by artists and people involved in the Bogota urban art scene. See here for a 3 week itinerary for visiting Colombia
Street Art in Medellín, Colombia
Contributed by Dorene Wharton from Travel Life Experiences
Medellin, Colombia is a city in mass transformation, shedding its dark past as once one of the most dangerous cities in the world to a creative, accessible, and safe city. Nothing articulates this more than through the street art in the neighborhood of Comuna 13. Here, the walls are the canvas to tell the areas difficult history, beautify the city, bring optimism and peace to its residents and now explain its history and its massive change to curious tourists.
More importantly, now famous street artists, musicians, and community leaders have shown kids that there are better, more productive and creative ways to channel self-expression through art instead of gangs and violence.
Most notable works in Comuna 13 include the paintings from Mashheroes of showing role models of helping to make the area a better place and other street art that tells the story of the controversial Operation Orion military operation in 2002. For more information about Comuna 13, the street art and tours you can find it in our Colombia posts here
*One of the most pivotal events was on Oct. 16, 2002, when the Colombian military carried out the controversial Operation Orión, a strike to overthrow all rebel groups in Comuna 13. Over 1,000 policemen, soldiers, and aircrew in helicopters attacked the area (comprising roughly 100,000 inhabitants). Hundreds were wounded. The siege made it impossible to seek medical attention for the wounded. The community took to the streets in solidarity flying white rags, which stopped the fighting.
Street Art in Valparaiso, Chile
Contributor by Jackie Szeto and Justin Huynh from Life Of Doing
We recommend seeing amazing street art in Valparaíso, Chile. Valparaíso (or “Valpo” as the locals call it) is a two hour bus ride from Santiago, Chile’s capital. You can spend a few days exploring the city’s murals. It’s easy to spot the street art as they are located everywhere.
The main areas for street art is in Cerro Concepción, Alegre, Bellavista, and Polanco neighborhoods. Cerro Concepción, Alegre, and Polanco have colorful, creative, and sometimes political artwork that covers the entire buildings.
If you’re looking for more graffiti and edgier artwork, check out Bellavista area. One of the best things to do is to go to random residential area and walk around on your own to uncover street art. If you’re short on time, take a guided tour and learn the history of the artwork and the artists.
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Street Art in Canada, North America, Central America
Where to Find the Best Street Art in Europe
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