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Like many of you, I’d like to step back in time on occasions — at least as much as a particular spot will allow me to.
A visit to Farmacia de la Estrella on Defensa Street in Buenos Aires, near the Basilica de San Francisco, will take you back to the 19th century. Built in 1835, the pharmacy is still actively functioning and a busy place dispensing homeopathic remedies to those in need. It is said to be the oldest pharmacy in Buenos Aires.
The woodwork is original mahogany, and the murals are lovely. You’ll see lots of old jars from a time when medicine didn’t come in blisterpacks or disposable bottles. The pharmacy hasn’t changed much over the past two centuries and …
Situated on Buenos Aires’ busy Avenida de Mayo is a charming cafe that’s worth looking up. Cafe Tortoni was founded in 1856 by a French immigrant who fashioned it after Paris’ cafes of that era. To say he did a great job is an understatement. Walking in from the busy avenue does indeed seem like stepping into Van Gogh’s Paris.
Cafe Tortoni moved to its current location in 1880. It has remained largely unchanged since then.
We visited for coffee and a pastry with some friends during our stroll down Avenida de Mayo. Both the company and refreshment were excellent! And the ambience was most memorable.
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As I’ve previously discussed, Buenos Aires has a vibrant street art scene. In this post I’ll share some of the art we encountered in the San Telmo neighborhood. San Telmo is a popular place to go shopping and dining. While it was at its prime in the late 19th century, San Telmo is now in a state of “elegant decay”. The street art provides some relief from this.
Here is some works of street art we saw as we walked these worn lanes:
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Floralis Genérica is one of the best known and most impressive monuments in Buenos Aires. It’s a sculpture of a massive flower (18 tons, 23 meters high) made of stainless steel, aluminum and concrete. Floralis Genérica is located in a beautiful 4 acre park at the Plaza of the United Nations in Recoleta. The park has walking paths that allow you to view the sculpture from different angles.
This impressive artwork was donated to the city in 2002 by architect Eduardo Catalano. It has a mechanism (which may or may not be working) that opens and closes the flower’s six gigantic petals, depending on the time of day. When all is in working order the flower closes …
El Tigre is situated an hour’s train ride from Buenos Aires, a trip that will cost you less than US$1 (departs from the Retiro station — linea Mitro). You can also get there by taking a cab (more expensive but faster). We enjoyed the slower train journey and were treated to an interesting assortment of vendors, panhandlers, and train performers all plying their business. Trains sure are a great place to people watch.
We visited El Tigre as a day trip but I wished we’d stayed overnight so we could have explored the islands around it. The region is green and lush and built astride a river which was flooded when we visited (the Parana River is prone to flooding). El …
The historic and beautiful cathedral, Iglesia Nuestra Senora del Pilar (The Church of Our Lady of Pilar), is situated in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta. The church adjoins the famous Recoleta cemetery, which we’ve previously visited on this website.
Iglesia Nuestra Senora del Pilar is considered one of the most beautiful examples of Buenos Aires’ Colonial architecture. It’s the city’s second oldest church and has retained its original altarpiece and icons. The church is named in honor of the patron saint of the city of Zaragoza in Spain, and was completed in 1732. Its original architect was a Jesuit, Andres Bianchi, and was built in conjunction with a convent of Franciscans.
The monks of Recoletos were expelled from …
Who would have guessed the most expensive real estate in Buenos Aires is found in a cemetery? Not only is it expensive, there’s a line waiting to get in (seriously)! You actually lease a plot here, as I understand it, and don’t permanently own it. In the future your heirs can cancel the deal or let the lease expire, though it’s so prestigious to have a plot here few do. Regardless, this piece of pricy land has become an interesting and popular tourist attraction.
Recoleta Cemetery is the final resting place of some of the richest and most important people in Argentina’s history, including politicians, Nobel prize winners, scientists and businessmen. Obviously only wealthy people can afford the real estate (about …
I love book and collect them (thousands of them — where to put them all?). I make a point of visiting libraries and bookstores during my travels although sometimes these visits happen by accident. So it was when I discovered El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore one evening in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, as my wife and I were walking back to our hotel after dinner in a parrillo (Argentine steakhouse).
Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America”. Many elegant buildings were constructed a century ago when the country was one of the wealthiest in the world, before a string of progressively worse governments destroyed Argentina’s economy. The result is a city that has a European …