Sunday, April 10, 2011

San Telmo Neighbourhood

Plaza Dorrego (Dorrego Square)
The cobble streets, the picturesque colonial houses, the numerous antique shops are living symbols of the present day San Telmo neighbourhood, that treasures centuries of history in every nook among its blocks.  It all started in mid 18 th century, when a large number of aristocratic families flooded into the country and built their mansions on the narrow dirt streets of "barrio sur" (south neighbourhood).  In like manner religious orders erected several temples and convents in the area.  Thanks to the flourishing port activity and other minor industries, the immigrant upper classes were able to establish themselves in the neighbourhood until, in 1871, a yellow fever epidemic broke out and drove them to the northern part of the city (Barrio Norte, Recoleta, Palermo).  The working classes lacked the resources to leave the area and in this way, little by little, began to occupy the empty dwellings turning them into the famous "conventillos" (tenements).
Antique shops

As time wore on, having reached 20 th century, the area bloomed once again with the recycling of several bars of old, the opening of antique dealers shops and Plaza Dorrego fair, open every Sunday.  One of the neighbourhood´s historical buildings is the Mercado de San Telmo, which since 1897, serves as a general stores fair and preserves its architecture designed by architect Juan Buschiazzo.  La Casa de los Ezeiza (Ezeiza family´s home), the Galería del Viejo Hotel (old hotel come art gallery) and the Solar de French are further examples of the large houses of colonial times still standing and worth knowing.
Mercado de San Telmo

But, aside from guarding our collective memory, this nook has become, together with Palermo Viejo, one of the trendy areas in Buenos Aires: backpacker hostels, irish pubs, gay hotels, small ethnic restaurants, young designers shops, add new character to a neighbourhood worth going over in leisure.

Keys to moving round San Telmo

Location: Between Belgrano, 9 de Julio, Eduardo Madero and Garay avenues.
Milonga (Tango)
Main arteries: Independencia Ave., Defensa, Bolívar, Balcarce, Chile.
How to get there: buses 9, 10, 17, 70, 130, 152, and C subway line.
Best time to visit: Sunday morning while the fair is open.
Neighbourhood corner: Humberto I and Defensa.

Accommodation: Buenos Aires Apartments , Hostel Buenos Aires

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