Neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Retiro and Plaza San Martín

1:51 PM Sandra Gutrejde 0 Comments

Plaza San Martín (San Martín Square), in Retiro Neighborhood, is one of the oldest and more beautiful parks in the city. It is bounded by Libertador Ave, Maipú St, Santa Fe Ave, and Leandro N Alem Ave, and has been declared as National Historic Site. It is, afer Plaza de Mayo, one of the most important squares in Buenos Aires.
The park, formerly known as the "Field of Glory," was renamed in honor of Argentina´s hero José de San Martín in 1878, upon the hundredth anniversary of his birth.
Following remodeling works by British architect Edward Taylor and Argentine archiect José Canale, the fort, bullring and other buildings that existed in the lands were demolished in 1883.
In 1889 French urbanist and landscaper Charles Thays was commissioned to give the plaza its approximate current form. Numerous Ombú, Linden, rubber plants, magnolias, ceibos, jacarandas, Floss Silk trees, and –oddly– sequoias, were planted.

Plaza San Martín and its surroundings acquired their current physiognomy in 1936, when Charles Thays' son, Carlos León Thays designed the esplanade surrounding the monument. The trees planted by Thays made this park one of the most beautiful in Buenos Aires.

Some of Argentina's wealthiest and most aristocratic families built their residences and mansions around the square, which rivaled in elegance with the ones in the nearby neighborhood of Recoleta.

San Martin Palace: originally the house of the Anchorena family, today the palace belongs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship.

Military Circle (Paz Palace): José Camilo Paz –founder of La Prensa newspaper– ordered the construction of his family mansion based on the plans made by the French Louis Sortaris. Since 1938, it has been the venue of the Military Circle, an army club, and the National Museum of Weapons.

Plaza Hotel: Industrialist Ernesto Torquinst decided to build a hotel at the level of those in Europe and New York. Architect Alfredo Zucker was in charge of this work, inaugurated in 1908. It was remodeled in 1913 and 1978. The hotel is one of the most traditional and luxurious in Buenos Aires.

Kavanagh building: In 1934, Corina Kavanagh ordered the construction of a skyscraper to the architects Sánchez, Lagos and de La Torre. They designed a step building made of reinforced concrete in a rationalist style. When the building was opened in 1936, it was the highest in Latin America.

Santísimo Sacramento Basilica: Aristocrat Mercedes Castellanos de Anchorena, owner of the Anchorena Palace, ordered the construction of this basilica, thinking that if she lived in a palace, her God should also deserve one. It was finished in 1916, designed by French architects Coulomb and Chauvet in a neo-gothic/romantic style. Tha white marbel facade represents Blessed Pedro Eymard with 2 kneeling angels. Its altar is one of the biggest in South America, with ornaments made of marble, blue granite, bronze and Venetian mosaic.

Retiro Train Station: Inaugurated in 1915 based on the project developed by a team of English engineers and architects, in a French academicism style. The metallic structure of the platforms was manufactured in Great Britain.

Monumental Tower (formerly The English Tower): donated by the British community in Argentina in 1916 for the centenary of Argentina´s independece. The clock has a diameter of 4.5 meters and a pendulum of 100 kilograms of weight. It was built with materials brought from England.

Monument to Malvinas War Soldiers: located on Leandro N. Alem Avenue, this memorial pays homage to the soldiers of the Malvinas War. It is made of 25 plaques with the names of all the soldiers who fell in combat in that war in 1982:

See also: Monument to General San Martín and A visit to the magnificent Palacio Paz

To see more pictures of Plaza San Martin and Retiro Neighborhood, visit my Retiro Photo Album.

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