San Telmo: historic neighborhood in Buenos Aires
No one should leave Buenos Aires without visiting the historic neighborhood of San Telmo in the southern area of the city, which still maintains the essence of its years of splendor and charm: cobbled pavements, narrow sidewalks, and classic-style buildings. Wandering around its streets is an undeniable and unforgettable trip to the past, where visitors can really feel they are traveling back in time to the colonial Buenos Aires while enjoying the dichotomy between modern and old times.
History of San TelmoSan Telmo was named after San Pedro Telmo Church, which was built after the foundation of the city in 1580. The wealthiest families of the colony settled down in this area and built aristocratic style houses which are still well-preserved due to the compliance of legislation intended to protect historic buildings. Nowadays, the constructions are a reminiscence of the flourishing city that Buenos Aires used to be from the beginning of the 19th century until the first decades of the 20th century. Visitors can imagine the members of the aristocratic families that inhabited the area going out from their houses dressed in fine expensive imported clothes or traveling on their carriages. However, the opulence of the neighborhood vanished as a yellow fever epidemic, the strongest suffered in Buenos Aires, hit the southern area in 1871 and forced the families to move and leave their luxurious residences abandoned. The houses were soon occupied by poor people and turned into tenements or “conventillos”, as they are frequently referred to in the Spanish variety spoken along the Río de la Plata.
San Telmo’s locationAs previously mentioned, San Telmo is located in the southern part of the city. It is a ten-minute walk from the House of Government in Plaza de Mayo. It is also easy and economically convenient to arrive by public transportation as there exist many buses going along the main avenues surrounding the area.
San Telmo´s main attractions
Plaza DorregoLocation: Calle Defensa and Humberto Primo Plaza Dorrego is one of the oldest squares in Buenos Aires. It is smaller than the great majority of squares in the city but not less attractive. It is located in Defensa street, where the largest number of antiques shops, restaurants, and cafés lie. In the past, it used to be an obligatory stop for horse-drawn carriages traveling to the south. On Sundays, a large number of visitors come to the square to visit the famous flea market where you can find from antiques to paintings and photographs.
Mercado de San TelmoLocation: Calle Defensa 693 This market is one of the most interesting places to visit in the neighborhood. It opened on 14 February 1891 and was an important trade center for the southern area of the city. In the past, there were a lot of stalls where people could buy meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, flowers, and bread, among others. As time passed by, it started to lose popularity and the building structure remained in poor condition for decades. Fortunately, it has been recently restored and it looks really fantastic. Nowadays, it is a melting pot where visitors can find a considerable number of stalls selling international or regional dishes at reasonable prices. Visitors who want to try Argentinian typical food do not leave the place without trying the empanadas, eating a choripan or drinking a glass of home brew beer or Malbec wine. In spite of the restoration, the place still maintains some antique shops that sell a wide variety of items such as porcelain dolls, haberdashery products, crockery, cutlery, and record players.
Mafalda’s cornerIn the intersection of Defensa and Chile, visitors can find the sculpture of Mafalda with her friends. The place belongs to an itinerary called “Paseo de la Historieta” (Comic Tour Itinerary). Quino, Mafalda’s cartoonist, lived in Chile 371 where he created the comic’s characters.
- “Casa mínima”, the smallest house in the city
- Nuestra Señora de Belén Church and San Pedro González Telmo Parrish