Neighborhoods of Buenos Aires: SanTelmo

4:51 PM Sandra Gutrejde 0 Comments

San Telmo neighborhood is a bohemian quarter, the birth place of Tango in Argentina, and a source of inspiration for many artists. Today is one of the most visited places in the city, especially by Tango lovers for its many “milongas” (Tango dancing salons), and Tango shows.

In its beginnings it was inhabited by the workers of the nearby port of Buenos Aires. They settled around Plaza Dorrego and on Defensa Street, considered as the oldest street in the city. The neighborhood grew, becoming the place of residence of many of the wealthiest and most traditional families in Buenos Aires.

During the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1871, these families abandoned their mansions, which still exist, and moved to the North of the city. These large houses were occupied by immigrant families, and became what we know today as “conventillos”, communal houses in which each room was occupied by a whole family.

Today many of these old houses have been restored, and hold stylish shops, hotels, loft-style apartments, hostels, and art galleries. This part of the city was chosen by many Antique dealers to establish their shops, especially on Defensa Street.

Its location is convenient for visiting Puerto Madero and the Center of the city, and it’s closer to the International Airport, but it’s a little farther away from other commonly visited places in Buenos Aires like Palermo or Recoleta. Most of the apartments for rent in this area are old renovated houses and lofts. There are also many youth hostels and new hotels.

Main attractions in the neighborhood:

San Telmo Antiques Fair: at Plaza Dorrego, on Humberto Primo and Defensa. It takes place Every Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. More than 70 stalls where you can find long plays, vintage clothes, jewels, post cards, almanacs, books, lamps, cutlery, and all kinds of antiques and curiosities. 
This weekly event also gathers many street performers like tango dancers, musicians, living statues, mimes, and other artists who set up their stalls all along Defensa Street, from Plaza Dorrego to Plaza de Mayo.

Dorrego Square (Plaza Dorrego): limited by Defensa, Humberto Primo, Betlehem and Anselmo Aieta, it’s considered as the oldest square in Buenos Aires after Plaza de Mayo. It was declared as National Historic Monument.

Lezama Park: this huge park, on one of the natural hillsides of the city, has an amphitheater, a garden of statues, and a monument to conqueror Pedro de Mendoza. It also holds the National Historic Museum.

Mercado San Telmo: with its main entrance on the corner of Carlos Calvo and Bolívar, this century-old market is worth visiting for its intact original architecture. The interior is made of an excellent iron structure roofed with tin foil and glass. There´s a food market as well as some antiques shops inside. It was inaugurated in 1897.

Historic Cafés: the bar at the corner of Humberto Primo and Defensa was founded in 1870, and the bar "Británico", at Brasil and Defensa, was created in 1928.

Pasaje "La Defensa": Defensa 1179. This is a traditional house of late XIXth century colonial Buenos Aires, characterized by a central patio around which the different rooms where distributed. Today it hosts a commercial center and antiques shops.

Nuestra Sra. de Belén Church - San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo Parish: Humberto Iº 340. This old temple, started in 1734, suffered many restorations. In 1943 it was declared as National Historic Monument. Its architecture mixes post-colonial, baroque, neoclassical, and Italian styles.

Engineering School: Paseo Colón 850. Neoclassical style building, a copy of the Law School building in Recoleta.

Monument "Canto al Trabajo" (Ode to Wok Monument): Paseo Colón 800. Work of Argentine sculptor Rogelio de Yrurtia (1879-1950). Sculptural group of 14 bronze human figures carrying a heavy stone.

Museum of the Cinema: Defensa 1220. This museum is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm, and holds a films library, collections of posters, clothes, photos and documents.

Secretariat of Agriculture Building: Paseo Colon 922. A superb building complex, in Neo-Gothic style.

To see more pictures of San Telmo, visit my San Telmo Photo Album

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