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The lively neighbourhood of San Telmo lies only 6 blocks from the Plaza de Mayo. With its faded glory, narrow cobblestone streets, a fabulous street market and squares where people dance tango, San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires’ most popular attractions.
San Telmo’s somewhat dilapidated buildings are part of this neighbourhood’s charm. The streets attract young artists and intellectuals who have flocked to San Telmo en masse. The neighbourhood is also home to small family-run bakeries, lovely antiques shops and hip bars, making San Telmo one of Buenos Aires’ most beloved neighbourhoods.
San Telmo emerged in the 17th century as a working class neighbourhood. Back in those days the Calle Defensa was nothing more than a path leading down to the harbour. The neighbourhood was mostly home to dockworkers, fishermen and slaves. In the 19th century, the neighbourhood’s infrastructure was upgraded and gas lanterns were installed on the streets. These improvements immediately attracted richer residents who began to build beautiful houses here. The colonial buildings with high doors and windows are still one of the characteristics of San Telmo.
Of course a neighbourhood with such a rich history offers plenty of attractions. Visit the gorgeous Farmacia de la Estrella at Calle Defensa - an old pharmacy from 1834. The original wooden cabinets and the beautifully decorated ceiling will take you back in time. The pharmacy is also the entrance to the Museo de la Ciudad, located on the second floor; this museum is entirely dedicated to the history of Buenos Aires.
For more nostalgia continue to Bar El Federal, on the corner of Carlos Calvo and Perú. This wonderful café decorated with 19th-century ads and photos is a great destination for a drink. Tango fans will absolutely love El Viejo Almacén, a small colonial 18th-century house that features one of the oldest tango theatres of the city. Founded in 1969 by renowned Argentine tango singer Edmundo Rivero, the theatre still hosts spectacular tango performances.
Every Sunday, San Telmo hosts the Feria de San Telmo, an enormous antiques and flea market that begins on the Plaza Dorrego and spills over into the surrounding streets. It can be hard to decide where to start, but we highly recommend strolling from the Plaza de Mayo through Calle Defensa. The long street is packed with antiques stalls and street performers and tango dancers lend a unique charm. Afterwards, browse the market around the Plaza Dorrego (every Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm).
Plaza Dorrego, Buenos Aires