San Telmo - A Neighbourhood with History

Published: November 15, 2006
By Germinal Nogues

History, tradition and bohemian styles are what define this neighbourhood.
Pedro Gonzalez Telmo was a Saint born in Leon who, after settling down in Galicia, became Bishop of the City of Tuy.
San Telmo is limited by Chile, Piedras, Caseros, Defensa, Martín García, Paseo Colon, Brasil and Ingeniero Huergo Streets.
In the beginning it was called "Altos de San Pedro" and its population was people working in the harbor.
Prosperity made traditional families -such as French, De Luca, Echeverría- to settle down in this area until the English squatted in it when they invaded the city.
In 1871 there was an epidemic of yellow fever that changed the history of this neighbourhood: the traditional and rich families decided to move far from the harbor to the North area of the city, like Recoleta, Retiro and Palermo, and the big mansions were abandoned.
These mansions are were the immigrants started to settle down while arriving in Buenos Aires, and they became what today is well known as "Conventillo" (a boarding house for poor families).
Today San Telmo is a must in every Tourist visit to the city. The traditional starting point is Dorrego Square (surrounded by Defensa, Humberto 1ª, Bethlem and Anselmo Aieta Streets). This square was the place where the people reaffirmed the Independence declared in the province of Tucuman.
Every Sunday the square is dressed up by exhibitions of different artists, handcrafts, old things and antiques. The square is also surrounded by lots of different shops specialized in antiques and valued furniture.
Artists, clowns, mimes, and actors are giving shows in the streets.
Defensa St. is the most old of all streets in the city, and it is in this street that the house where Domingo French was born, was built.
San Telmo has the most beautiful places to enjoy some Tango music, Tango shows, and to dance Tango as well. Lots of old and traditional Coffee Places are still kept and receive tourists from all over the world. You can visit "Bar Sur", or "El Viejo Almacen".
There are also Museums, like the Modern Art Museum (350 San Juan Av.) or the Municipal Movies Museum (1220 Defensa St.)
There's a big green area which name is Parque Lezama. Some people say that in this park is where the city was founded for the first time in 1536, but this was never confirmed. The park was built on some kind of gully and it has an amphitheatre and three interesting monuments: one dedicated to Pedro de Mendoza, the "Cruceiro" that was a tribute given by the community of Galicia for the IV Centenary of the City, and the Uruguay-Argentina Brotherhood Monument.
There is a famous novel written by Ernesto Sabato which name is "Sobre héroes y tumbas" (About Heroes and Graves), in which this park has an important part.
The neighbourhood celebrates its festivity every year on August 29th. Its coat of arms has a star that symbolizes the Star of Belen, the three Crowns represent the 3 Magic Kings, and the Church, the Spirit of the place.
Beautiful place to visit. You cannot miss it at all!
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