San Telmo Neighborhood – Facts & History

If you love history, San Telmo is one of the oldest and most traditional neighborhoods in the city, called originally Altos de San Pedro, and then San Pedro Telmo, it has the particularity of having a quite important historical conservation and a deep connection with Tango music.

This neighborhood, that was one of the most severely affected by the yellow fever in 1870, underwent a population exodus and deterioration that stopped its growth and development. For this reason, no new buildings were added to substitute the old ones, which was the case in most of the other areas of the city.

San Telmo’s attractions include old churches, museums, antique stores and a semi-permanent antique fair in the main public square, Plaza Dorrego. San Telmo’s bohemian air began attracting local artists after immigrants left the area. Growing cultural activity resulted in the opening of the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art in 1956, as well as in the advent of the “Republic of San Telmo” in 1960, an artisan guild which organized art walks and other events.

San Telmo’s immigrant presence also led to the quick popularization of Tango in the area; soon becoming one of the city’s best-known Tango music halls, it contributed to the cultural and economic revival of the neighborhood. Artisans, musicians, street performers and antique vendors come from near and far to share their treasures and talents with the public. Antiques market on Plaza Dorrego is filled with stalls. The assortment of antiques offers a great variety of articles: from jewelry, dresses, old dazzling treasures like paintings, pictures and sculptures, tango records to pricey antiques. Even if antiques aren’t your thing, it’s a great place to browse and share time with cool people.

Defensa, San Telmo’s main street, becomes a pedestrian zone on Sundays. Musicians and artists set up all along the way, from tango orchestras to solitary singers and street performers. Arts and crafts from local artisans are for sale up and down the strip. And if you get tired of strolling, take a rest in one of the many cafés where you can sip an Espresso or have a nice lunch in one of San Telmo´s beautiful restaurants.

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