Buenos Aires Feature

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An Architecture Walking Tour of Buenos Aires

Most buildings from the colonial era and the early days of the republic have long since been built over, but San Telmo still offers glimpses of bygone Buenos Aires. Adjacent Puerto Madero is the fastest-changing part of town, home to some of Latin America's most expensive real estate and skyscrapers-to-be.

Time Travel in San Telmo

Start in Plaza Dorrego, the city's second-oldest square and the heart of San Telmo, and head north up Defensa. Late 19th-century town houses line the street—most now contain antiques shops or clothing boutiques. Detour left onto Estados Unidos to explore the Mercado de San Telmo, a produce market dating from 1897 (antiques now outnumber the apples on sale). Continue north up Defensa to Number 755, El Zanjón de los Granados, a restored 18th-century house and the tunnels under it. Turn right into Pasaje San Lorenzo, a cobbled alley. At Number 380 stands Casa Mínima, the city's thinnest building—about 8 feet wide—which once belonged to a freed slave.

Backtrack down Defensa and left onto Pasaje Giuffra, another quiet lane, then right onto Balcarce, lined with more old houses. Follow Estados Unidos east and over busy Paseo Colón. The huge neoclassical building is now the University of Buenos Aires' School of Engineering, but was the headquarters of Evita's social-aid foundation.

Watery Wonders

Cross Avenida Huergo onto Puerto Madero—Estados Unidos changes its name to Rosario Vera Peñaloza and becomes a wide boulevard with a leafy pedestrian median. Facing the end of the street is an ornate white fountain, Fuente Las Nereidas, sculpted by Argentinean Lola Mora in 1902. It was commissioned for Plaza de Mayo, but the nude nymphs were considered too scandalous to stand so close to the cathedral.

Wander north along the Costanera Sur : to your left are Puerto Madero's skyscrapers; to your right is a stretch of water separating Puerto Madero proprer from the Reserva Ecológica. (The ecological reserve's entrance is through the trees behind Fuente Las Nereidas—a detour here will add gorgeous greenery and lots of extra mileage to your walk). Be sure to try a vaciopán (steak sandwich) sold by the food carts along the Costanera.

Urban renewal

Turn left onto Martha Lynch, which curves past the Parque de las Mujeres Argentinas, a small park, and ends at one of Puerto Madero's former docks, now home to Buenos Aires' newest buildings (and newest construction sites). The original redbrick warehouses over the water now house restaurants and offices.

Just ahead is Santiago Calatrava's sculptural pedestrian bridge, Puente de la Mujer. Continue up the side of the docks along Pierina Dealessi: the compact steel-and-concrete structure at the end of Dique 4 contains the Colección Fortabat art museum, which also has a stylish café.

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