San Telmo is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Like the lower east side of New York, it has had its ups and downs throughout the years, moving in and out of fashion. Large mansions/brownstones that once housed the most notable and rich of the city were, in the late 19th century, separated into tenement housing for the poor after a yellow fever outbreak lead to the mass exodus of the wealthy owners. The turn of the century and rise in the immigrant population led to increasing diversity and turned the neighborhood into a magnet for the artistic and bohemian crowd. Today, the streets are still small and paved with cobble stones and the architecture is often surprisingly old and beautiful. Every so often you get a glimpse of the colonial style architecture that was once the height of society and culture in Buenos Aires. Because of this, if you allow yourself, you will be filled with a bit of old world wonder. Back in Brooklyn Heights, the historic neighborhood where Jesse and I lived in New York, there is a tiny alley called Love Lane that still has carriage houses from the early 20th century, when Brooklyn Heights was considered a “country” escape for so many wealthy Manhattanites (though I think some of the current Manhattanites still think of Brooklyn as a weekend getaway… such an adventure to cross the river…). The interior of these old carriage houses had, of course, been renovated into luxury apartments like most buildings in NYC, but every time I passed them, I got a bit whimsical and my imagination filled the alley with the horses and carriages and ladies walking with parasols. That may be the cheesy, romantic, Jane Austen-loving side of me, but I think San Telmo, like Brooklyn Heights, has preserved enough of its history, especially in its architecture, to take you back to the days of yore…
This is just a little glimpse into San Telmo. We didn’t get the full experience of the neighborhood, but went there primarily for the Sunday market. We’re going back to see the tango halls and cafes, but for now… the market!
Every Sunday between 11am and 4pm, San Telmo houses one of Buenos Aires’ largest outdoor street markets. Centered around Plaza Dorrego, hundreds upon hundreds of vendors snake out through the streets selling everything from antiques to leather crafts to art and accessories to music. Food vendors walk through the streets selling their handheld treats (empanadas, tacos, dulces) and street performers put on shows where they find room. Some stalls actually look like they are performance art with the stall designed as a set and the people dressed in costume. Thousands of people crowd the streets, many of them tourists, bringing me back a little to walking down Broadway in downtown NYC.
It was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. We took a lot of pictures… These are just some of them. 😉