Old and new architecture in San Telmo
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.
From pharmacy to tango theatre
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.
Lively street market
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).