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Top 10 of San Telmo

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Top 10: San Telmo

Known as the historic quarter of Buenos Aires, San Telmo is full of surprising nooks and crannies, incredible antiques, and beautiful accents. This area of town was a refuge for the city’s wealthy families during the yellow fever epidemic of the late 1800s, and has been maintained over the years to keep its old charm. The neighborhood has since become home to working class immigrants, and today is occupied by porteños with an affinity for the bohemian. It is also one of the premier tango neighborhoods in the city. Here are the top 10 things to see while exploring this historic barrio.

1. San Telmo Market

While the neighborhood is well worth a visit on any given day of the week, it really comes to life on Sundays. Since the 1970s, an outdoor market has been held in San Telmo on Sunday afternoons. The official market is in Plaza Dorrego, and is comprised mostly of antique vendors, but today, Calle Defensa is home to dozens of artisans, street performers, and vendors, selling handicrafts, jewelry, food, and everything in between, stretching as far as the eye can see. The market starts at 10 in the morning, but really gets going around 2 pm.

2. Plaza Dorrego

This is the true heart of the neighborhood, and is constantly filled with tango dancers and music. There are several restaurants surrounding the plaza, and the neighborhood’s main streets branch off from here. This is also where the Sunday market is based. Come enjoy a copa de vino or a café con leche on a sunny afternoon and soak up the porteño atmosphere.

3. Parque Lezama

Some say this park was the original settlement of Buenos Aires, although nobody really knows for sure. Today, it is an expansive green space, perfect for enjoying some mate in the afternoon, or just for taking a stroll. Street vendors often line the perimeter of the park.


4. Mercado de San Telmo

The shopping never ends in this quirky neighborhood. The Mercado de San Telmo is an indoor market which opened its doors in the 1890s. While it leaks a bit on very rainy days, it still maintains its original structure and design. Here, you can find the cuts of meat that make Argentina famous, as well as colorful fruits and vegetables. The outer edges of the market sell antiques, and the knowledgeable vendors are always happy to answer any questions.


5. Museo de Arte Moderno

Greatly contributing to the thriving art scene of San Telmo, the Modern Art Museum offers Argentine works, as well as pieces by international artists such as Picasso and Dalí.

6. Street Performers

If you’ve got a hankering for some amazing street tango, musicians, or even magicians, look no further than the streets of San Telmo. While the street performers are out in full force on Sundays, there isn’t a day of the week that you can’t catch a glimpse of some local talent, especially in Plaza Dorrego.

7. Pasaje de la Defensa

Once a single family residence, this late 1800s home was transformed into a conventillo for up to 30 immigrant families at once around the turn of the century. Today, it acts as yet another unique place to poke around and find some bargains; a flea market occupies its rooms.

8. Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Belén

The towering church of San Telmo, it sits quietly down Humberto Primo street. It was constructed in 1733, in the Neo-Baroque style. In the mid-1800s, Andalusian towers were added. Inside, you can see a typical colonial church.

9. Balconies

While the intricacies of Buenos Aires’ balconies tend to be an architectural highlight throughout the entire city, San Telmo has the cream of the crop. Ornate wrought iron in many different styles embellishes the narrow cobblestone streets, just another nod to times past.

10. Graffiti

No bohemian neighborhood would be complete without its fair share of street art. San Telmo is splattered with some amazing murals and colorful graffiti, sometimes in the most unexpected of places. A couple of small yards along Avenida San Juan are simply covered in every hue of the rainbow, and then some.

For more information about the different neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, see this Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

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