San Telmo Buenos Aires
San Telmo Architecture
Tango in San Telmo
San Telmo is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. It is located between downtown (el centro for the porteños) and La Boca, another picturesque neighborhood by the river.
This entire vicinity is considered as a National Historic Monument, since the most important events of Argentina have occurred within its limits.
Originally, this neighborhood was the home of the high society of Buenos Aires. They owned large “quintas” (houses surrounded by large gardens, a kind of farm) When the yellow fever epidemic took place, by the late 1800’s, those families mainly moved to the north of the city, Retiro and San Martín square. The European, colonial style mansions, left by wealthy families, were mostly occupied by immigrants and became sort of a popular kind of house, called “conventillos”, a particular style of homes for low-income families. Lately, these “conventillos” were recycled and turned into art galleries, or leather, handcrafts, regional and silver manufacturer showrooms, or tango halls and fashionable restaurants.
Nowadays, San Telmo is romantic, antique and different. Once in the zone you will feel as if you were in the authentic old Buenos Aires. The cobblestone narrow streets, high trees, and a particular kind of public candle lights, called (faroles), still in use, make an atmosphere of special reminiscence.
The meeting point is Plaza Dorrego, where a kind of “flea market” takes place every weekend. On Saturdays and Sundays, this fair attires a miscellaneous crowd looking for a souvenir, a collection piece, vintage dresses, old photographs, books, magazines, or a just a simple, special gift to buy. There are other streets nearby and stores offering art pieces, antiques, furniture of previous centuries, American silver handcrafts and all kind of souvenirs.
Should you stroll around these narrow streets, you will find excellent tango performers in the open air. This kind of spectacles is very usual in San Telmo, especially during the weekends. Free tango lessons are also available for audacious amateurs with live music.
Within this special environment, the old and characteristic bars are a picturesque scene of San Telmo. Most of them go back from the 1800´s and they have maintained their original facades and internal decoration. The most famous are: The British Bar (Bar Britanico) at the corner of Brasil and Defensa Streets, El Viejo Almacén, in Independencia and Balcarce Streets, (At present a tango show), built in the late 1700´s, El Federal, at the corner of Peru and Carlos Calvo Streets, and many others . Even though these bars are frequently visited by tourists, their different generations of owners have always sought to perpetuate the nostalgic porteños as their exclusive customers,
A whole day walking should not be missed in San Telmo. It is worth visiting:
Parroquia de San Pedro Telmo: considered a National Historic Monument, this neo-classic Catholic Church was ended by 1858.
Lezama Park: with the monument to Pedro de Mendoza (one of the founders of Buenos Aires), is a splendid green area with exuberant trees and huge sculptures.
Across the Lezama Park, The Russian Orthodox Church of the Sacred Trinity: built by the Russian community by the early 1900’s. The characteristic architecture and particular style deserve a visit.
National History Museum: this museum houses interesting pieces and documents, of Argentine history.
Museum of Modern Art: Very notable for its collection of contemporary art, photo and architectural and industrial designs.
The Movies Museum: a large collection of costumes, documents, copies of more than 1.000 films are in permanent exhibition. Besides, thematic cinema sessions are often played.
San Telmo Buenos Aires Map
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