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Updates from Argentina
Monday, 27 April 2009
Walk San Telmo
Topic: Buenos Aires Historical

Walk San Telmo,......


While touring around San Telmo in the old neighborhood of Buenos Aires, there are several interesting architectural landmarks that should be taken into account to enjoy the best sight possible. Heading from Puerto Madero up to Defensa St and then all around the historical blocks of Carlos Calvo and Humberto 1, we will then head over towards the gorgeous Lezama Park to end our first virtual tour.

Link to Photo Album Vintage Cars from Argentina

Along Paseo Colon, named in honor of the intrepid Genovese explorer Christopher Columbus is the old Agriculture and Fishing Secretary. This neo gothic construction evokes the early 20th century Argentine wealth, when the country was christened the world's barn. The construction was directed by Vanelly& Sons and Kimbau & Company.

A couple of steps to the right is an outstanding construction belonging to the University of Buenos Aires, one of the world's most respected institutions at the time it is one of the last public and free of charge ivy league schools in the world. The School of Engineering was built during the early 50s and before belonging to the UBA it used to be Eva Peron's Foundation.

Just in front of the school is one of the greatest public works of art of our country. Entitled "An ode to Work", this is a monumental sculpture by Rogelio de Yrurtia (1879-1950), made in bronze and featuring 14 brilliantly achieved human figures.


Crossing Paseo Colon to Defensa Street we head along Estados Unidos St we head towards the San Telmo yards, a typical 18th century of the area that holds artists and artisans, located in the San Lorenzo Path.


At the corner of Estados Unidos St and Balcarce St. is BAR Sur a typical argentine café that opened its doors back in 1967 and was an avant-garde location in terms of night tango shows. It's still is, both for locals and visitors alike, for it presents a trustfully inspired show of the traditional music and dance of tango, as well as an inspiring atmosphere. A must for anyone who wishes to enjoy a traditional tango experience.


Following our tour thru Balcarce St, at the number 1016 is the home of the famous Argentine artits Juan Carlos Castagnino, born in 1908 this artist was an outstanding man of arts who's widely known for his works of illustration for the Argentine best seller book Martin Fierro in the 1963 edition. Having passed away in 1972, his late 18th century home remains as a landmark of aesthetics and homage to his works.


Next door to Castagnino's home is one other outstanding construction known as the Old Hotel, now transformed in Art Gallery and atelier for the neighborhood's artists and sculpture makers. The gorgeous construction dating from 1890 was originally a top notch hotel, today is part of the protected historical buildings of Old Buenos Aires.


The first parallel street to the left of Estados Unidos is Carlos Calvo St, between Balcarce and Defensa is one very interesting building of the early 20th century, the Denmark Church. Carlos Calvo 257 is the precise address.

While Argentina is a mainly Roman Church Catholic country, there are several other religious cults that have their place in the Argentine society product of the initial melting pot upon which our culture was shaped and formed. As with most aspects of our culture, this religion arrived to the Argentine shores by boat and built upon the beliefs and strength of the millions of immigrants that chose Argentina to become their new motherland. The construction is outstanding, following the lines of the neo gothic style; its blueprints were made by the famous Danish architects Rönnow and Bisgaard. It was officially opened in 1931 and functions to our days. For further information on the Church as well as the services contact them at


Following the walk throughout San Telmo's oldest and most interesting buildings we arrive thru Carlos Calvo St. to the number 319, where's the old Knifemen's Home. The construction was made in two times, the first part which would be the front room is from late 18th century, and the remaining construction is from early 19th century. While today this construction is a restaurant, this construction was home to a tragic 19th century love story:

Margarita daughter of a very prestigious man of Rosas was supposed to marry into society, but she was in love with a local artist, singer; a bohemian man of the arts that stole her heart. Margarita run away with her love but was caught by her arranged fiancé who shot her when she tried to escape.

Margarita returned to her home and died a couple of days latter.


Our walk along the historical buildings of San Telmo now takes us to Buenos Aires foreman Esteban de Luca's home, at the intersection of Defensa and Carlos Calvo St.

The construction dates of the late 18th century. De Luca was a military, poet and journalist of a great time in our history, and because of his actions atop the historical aspects of his home it has now been turned into National historical Monument.


Our next stop is a whole block delimited by Bolivar, Carlos Calvo, Defensa and Estados Unidos, home of the historical San Telmo Marketplace. Featuring a unique style of avant-garde modernity in the late 19th century, this construction evokes a cross influence of Italian style in the outside construction and a strong English -trainstaition/marketplace- like iron structure combining metal and glass into a smooth look. The Architect was Juan Antonio Buschiazzo and the Market is still functioning to our days supplying nearby neighbors and curious visitors from every day goods and groceries to fine antiques and collectibles. A one of a kind mix that somewhat comes together in a wholesome concept only in San Telmo.


As the careful reader might have noticed, San Telmo, apart from being one of the oldest neighborhoods in our city, was also home to the Buenos Aires society, therefore the once splendorous which are being brought back to life thanks to the combined efforts of Architects, the City and San Telmo neighbors, are the living monuments of glorious times. An epidemic of yellow fiber back in the late 19th century and early 20th forced most of the prominent families to relocate in what today is the poshest area of the

city: Recoleta.


Walking along Defensa St is Plaza Dorrego, a gathering point for the neighbors that has been there for at least 3 centuries, home to local pubs, bars, cafes and a myriad of public shows, on Sundays the plaza transforms in outdoor flea market for the antique lovers and the passers by.


Taking our right down Humberto 1 St to the number 378 is the Argentine Penitentiary Museum. The building is truly interesting, built in 1760, by the architect Antonio Masella it was originally targeted to be the Home of the Spiritual Army for men, but soon the Jesuit mission was taken off Royal jurisdiction, and it was then awarded to the Cabildo, the house of government during Colonial times directly dependant of the Spanish Crown.

Inside the building is a Jesuit Chapel dating from 1734. Time passed and Argentina got its independence from Spain. The building was adjourned in Modern times to serve as Women's Penitentiary until 1978. After that, the city declared the construction as historical patrimony and it was transformed into a museum that opens daily.


Next door to this very ancient building is yet another construction that dates from the Jesuits' times. Because the building's construction began in

1734 and was altered and transformed throughout the centuries until early 20th century is that the National Monument features a truly eclectic neo colonial style. The careful and trained eye, can try to discover the diverse influences from different times, but indeed it's a somewhat impossible task for the input was tremendous and the alterations endless. All in all, it's a beautiful construction that is currently undergoing a process of restoration, may be the conservation will provide a closer look to its original features. Open for visitations every day, except for when religious services take place.


 Across the street on Humberto 1 343 is the very first Medical School of Argentina. Today, the building holds a Public School: Escuela Guillermo Rawson. The first school of Medicine in Buenos Aires was opened in 1858. The construction features a neo colonial style, and an interesting note of color is that the front door magnolias have been there since the school first opened. Just a tip for the botanical lovers.


Back to Defensa St, we continue our walk thru San Telmo's architectural monuments. On Defensa heading towards our left is Pasaje La Defensa, a brilliant construction of 1880, an era of splendor and growth for our nation, on the number 1179. This home belonged to the Ezeiza Family, a prominent society group which played a central role in our history during crucial times. Today the traditional two story construction is a gallery opened to the public.


A couple of steps further to our left is San Juan Avenue, if we walk just a bit along San Juan to our left is the City's Government Museum of Modern Art. The huge brick walled building was a cigarette factory -actually a trademark of early Argentina Cigarettes 43- built in 1918 with an interesting input of British Utility Buildings aesthetics. The museum while undergoing thru a rehab process is open to the public daily.


Back to Defensa St as we head off towards the gorgeous Lezama Park, on Defensa 1220 is the Museum of Film, which does not offer an outstanding architectural interest, is home to some very interesting movie collection and memorabilia. Opens Monday thru Friday from 10 AM to 5PM.


On Defensa 1344 is a 1860 traditional house, that was saved from demolition by real estate magnate Osvaldo Giesso, it currently holds an art gallery and Theatre school.

Following Defensa towards Brasil St, at the very intersection of these two streets is one of the neighborhoods most beloved and treasured cafes. The Bar Britanico, aka British Bar, whose owners were Spanish immigrants, but the area developed so much during the times when the British were establishing the railway system, that they finally christened their shop in honor to the area's progress. This is as traditional as it gets in terms of Buenos Aires cafes, plus the view of the park is just brilliant, so don't miss it.


To our left, following the park's barrancs is a great monument of unparallel architecture in the area: The Russian Orthodox Church of the Holly Trinity, on Brasil 315. The 17th century muscovite styled church was actually built in the early 1900, with the coordinated efforts of The Holly Synods of Russia Mihail Preobrazensky and architect Alejandro Christophersen. The detailing of the construction is outstanding and its finest highlight is the Venetian mosaics representing the Holly Trinity custom made in Saint Petersburg.

Link to Photo Album Mercado de las Pulgas Buenos Aires

The Lezama Park is an immense green space in the heart of the Southern District of the City, located in a natural barranc that is believed to have been the first original location of the first founding of the City of Buenos Ayres. The Park is also linked directly to one of the city's most important historical events, which are the repellence of the English invasion in 1806; the place where the local forces defeated the invading ones was precisely the Lezama Park. Years after, the British relocated David MacKinley built his weekend Riverside House, soon it was christened the English House. By 1857, the property was bought by a Salta Business man Jose Gregorio Lezama, he forested the area with exotic plants and tree. By 1889, his widow sold the property to the community to transform it into a public area under the name of her late husband.

Link to Photo Album Defensa Street and 251

Meantime, ............... Read daily Up Dates on Art and Antiques for Buenos Aires, Argentina  http://www.frassinetti.bizArgentina also exports antiques over 100 years old with the help of Bob Frassinetti Read all about the South of South America, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay on this link. Updated and new web site, The Buenos Aires Toy Museum, Argentina   Chat some more soon, ................................  Bob Frassinetti. 


Posted by bob frassinetti at 11:54 AM

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