A few words
The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is the capital of the Argentine Republic. Together with its metropolitan area (Gran Buenos Aires), it is the second city in size in South America and one of the major urban centers of the world. Most of its residents live in apartment buildings which have been built in small sites. The political and commercial activity of the city is concentrated here and therefore it is the working place of most inhabitants of the suburbs (conurbano). In order to understand the intense soul of this city, it is necessary to visit three emblematic areas:
Downtown /Puerto Madero, the political and financial heart of Buenos Aires and the most modern, sophisticated and glamorous district, with its yacht marina, its floating casino and the posh restaurant area;
San Telmo/La Boca, an area marked by immigration and tango. Its cobblestoned streets, the colourful houses and the popular art at every corner are a permanent invitation to discover bohemian life.
Finally Palermo/Recoleta area, the green heart of the city and hangout of young designers.
San Telmo was, in its origins, the dwelling place of aristocratic families of Buenos Aires in colonial times, but the terrible yellow fever epidemic that hit the city in 1871, caused them to move to the better off summer houses in the northern area. This event modified the destiny of the district. The immigration wave that followed at the turn of the 20th century turned the elegant houses of the place into “conventillos” ( poor communal houses) that would provide lodging to numerous immigrant groups.
As from 1970, the City Government started to renovate the old buildings and the district was declared National Historical Patrimony.
La Boca is the traditional port district. The tango powerfully emerged from its cafés and brothel houses. The Genoeses brought here their customs and this can clearly be seen at each step you take.
The picturesque colour of the houses and the hectic rhythm of the port workers inspired the painter Quinquela Martín in the production of his works. Knowing La Boca means becoming acquainted with Camito Museum street, the Bombonera Stadium( legendary circular football field where Maradonna played ) and Quinquela Martín Museum.
We would like to thank the "Subsecretaría de Turismo" office of Buenos Aires city for the texts and photographs provided.
San Telmo. Plaza Dorrego
It is the emblematic square of San Telmo district, surrounded by small restaurants, beer houses and open-air bars.
When you stop to have a snack, it is like placing yourself in the heart of the stage of ancient times.
Couples dancing tango, crafstmen making the typical “mate”, street silversmiths, painters. All of them are keenly waiting for you.
Mate: National drink. It is prepared with "yerba mate" (special herb) and hot water inside an emptied pumpkin. It is sipped through a metal straw called “bombilla”. It is said that "mate" fosters friendly gatherings because it is shared. Argentines are used to sitting in a circle to have "mate", a ritual called “cebar mate”.
On Saturdays it is common to find the neighbours playing cards while being watched by passers-by. On Sundays , the traditional “ Feria de Artesanos y Anticuarios” (Craft and Antique Fair), takes place, organized with the support of the City Museum.
Some metres away from the square, (Defensa, 1039) you may visit the workshop of Juan Carlos Pallarols, the famous silversmith, who comes from a family of silversmiths that settled in Río de la Plata at the end of 1800.
San Pedro Telmo Church is located in 340 Humberto 1º St., some meters
away from the square, between Defensa and Balcarce St. San Pedro was
the protector of sailors and fishermen. Inside the building there are
valuable relics from the time of the British invasions (1806-1807) and
also other objects with historical value.
Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa de la Santísima Trinidad -Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity- . Built in Muscovite style
from the 17th century, and inaugurated in 1904. It is located in Brasil St, 315.
San Telmo. Parque Lezama
This park was created on one of the natural ravines of the city, between Defensa and Brazil streets. It was the setting of the original foundation of the city. It is advisable to visit Lezama Park, famous for its varied and ancient trees on business days and also to stop by Pasaje Giuffra, located between Avenida Independencia and Calle Estados Unidos, as both places are full of picturesque old bars with antique wooden furniture and restaurants specialized in pasta, pizza and barbecues to suit all tastes. On Saturdays and Sundays you can visit the interesting craft fair, that opens from 10am to 8pm.
Nearby is the National Historical Museum. This Italian style building was finished in 1846 and lies in Defensa 1600 within the Lezama Park. The museum was founded in 1889, and offers a panorama of the Argentine history and customs from the pre-Hispanic indian cultures prior to the 15th century to the 20th, through engravings, watercolours, weapons, maps and everyday objects.La Boca - Caminito
It is impossible to spend a day in Buenos Aires without visiting Caminito St. This " little Italy" maintains the characterist features of the immigration at the turn of the 20th century. The original cobblestoned streets, the colourful metal houses and the artists’ workshops are an invitation to a magical afternoon. In this museum street you will find couples dancing the tango, painters with their watercolours and oils and artisans with their creations. A varied gastronomic visit completes the tour.
Do not leave without visiting the Benito Quinquela Martin Art Museum located in the Avenida Pedro de Mendoza. This museum opened in 1938 and, thanks to the remarkable port painter’s support, exclusively features the work of Argentine artists and painters.
Vuelta de Rocha (Vuelta de Rocha promenade) declared a site of national historical interest is another must-see, from where you can have an interesting view of the Riachuelo port, of La Boca and Avellaneda Bridge, from which this neighbourhood was enlarged. This site was known as the “The Square of Sighs" as it was here where nostalgic Genoeses got together to remember their country.