Buenos Aires – December 2019 – Barracas Barrio

While we had a fail on Saturday with a tour of San Telmo, our day Sunday turned out much better with a tour along with Silvia from Buenos Aires Eclectic of the Barracas Barrio.




We started out at La Casa De Los Leones, the House of the Lions. Home to Eustoquio Diaz Velez, who was a rich land owner in the 1800s. Legend has it that Diaz Velez kept lions on the property, and one night one escaped and killed a boyfriend of one of his daughters.




Across the street is the historic house Ingles Montes.




Many of the buildings along the street have great detail.







Dating from the late 1800s the Santa Lucia Church graces the street amongst the 15 floor apartment buildings.




The area has gone through some gentrification, with these 30 floor apartment buildings standing along side 1800s buildings.




A Buenos Aires staple, the Aguila Chocolate factory was a major neighborhood employer. The company still exists, but the iconic factory is now a grocery store.




As with most Buenos Aires neighborhoods, there is some interesting graffiti.




Lanin Street is so cool I have dedicated an entire posting to it – following this posting.




Plaza Colombia has this great sculpture and flagpole.




While nearby is the spectacular Santa Felicitas Church. Built in German Gothic style it is one of, if not the only, example of this style in the world.




The courtyards are elegant.







The basement has what is known as the Tunnel Museum, with the history of the church and the neighborhood.




They had a collection of nun wardrobes!







Much of the museum was dedicated to the immigrant community.







A local cooking legend, Dona Petrona, was also featured.




The upper level had a nave, but is no longer used as a church – it now serves as a community center.




Many thanks to Silvia for an informative and entertaining tour.






Buenos Aires – November 2019 – Unguided Tour

Another sunny Saturday was the perfect day to take a ‘Tours for Tips’ of a neighborhood, this time back in San Telmo. Unfortunately the tour guide didn’t show so we set off on our own – finding plenty of unique sights.

We arrived at the 2nd major rail station in Buenos Aires – Constitucion. It is a classic!
















Next stop was Parque Lezama, and the Palacio within.













We continued on into the main part of the neighborhood.




… checked out the shops in and around San Telmo Market.













Santo Doningo Basilica




A close up of the Casa Rosada




Puerto Madero




And finally at the Kirchner Cultural Center. Who needs a tour guide!






Montevideo, Uruguay – November 2019 – A Variety of Architectural Styles

Montevideo, Uruguay is a city of approximately 1.3 million people, making up 1/3 of the entire population of the country. As the capital and economic center of Uruguay the city has a eclectic collection of architecture.

Since we arrived by the ‘fast ferry’ from Buenos Aires, the first building that greeted us was the Port Terminal Building.




The Municipal Theater and Museum of Art History is an impressive structure in the Cordon neighborhood.




Along the Avenida 18 July there are a number of impressive buildings leading you to Plaza Indepencia.







The most impressive is Palacio Salvo (also the feature photo). It was designed by Mario Palanti, who designed the Palacio Barolo in Buenos Aires. As a result their looks are very similar.







The Ciudadela Building is on the opposite end of Plaza Independencia from the Palacio Salvo. Designed by Raul Sichero and Ernesto Calvo and completed in 1958, it stands 90 meters high.




The Pablo Ferrando Building dates from 1917, serving as a library and coffee shop




The new Presidential Building is also along the Plaza Independencia.




The remains of Miguelete Prison. But fear not – it’s wings now host a contemporary art museum as well as a museum of natural history.




Scenes in Ciudad Vieja (the old city).







A few miles out of the old town you come to the World Trade Center of Montevideo.







This unique building is the Damaso Antonio Larranaga Zoological Museum.




As you reach Punta Gorda the mid rise apartments give way to single and duplex family homes.




We end our tour with the 1876 Punta Brava Lighthouse. It continues to serves it’s original use to this day.






Buenos Aires – November 2019 – Open House goes South

Out of sheer good luck we happen to be in Buenos Aires for their Open House. Their motto is 1 City, 2 Days, 140 Buildings and 760 Volunteers.




Without much notice I missed the sign up period for many of the more popular buildings, but we were still able to see some interesting examples of BsAs architecture.

Our first stop was the Casal de Catalunya. Built in the Barcelona style, the building dates from 1886. It has been home of the Catalan community in Buenos Aires for 130+ years.













Another building from the 1880s is Casa Bolivar. It is designed in a ‘Casa Chorizo (Sausage) style, so named as there are numerous small wings connected through a common hallway, much like links of sausage hanging in the butcher shop.

Casa Bolivar is in San Telmo, which was the main immigrant neighborhood for 100 years. These type of houses served as the first home for hundreds of thousands of immigrants – now it has been refurbished into an art studio and AirBnB.












The Instituto Superior Octobre is located amongst a number of 100 year old buildings, and from the outside fits in perfectly.

Inside is a completely different look – With the openness of the center court, and the steel and glass throughout, it is thoroughly modern.










The Teatro (Theater) Gran Rex is located along the main theater street in the city – Corrientes. It is modeled after Radio City Music Hall. I am unable to identify the statue in the lobby but for now we will call him the Argentina Dean Martin.




As noted previously it was designed to be similar to Radio City Music Hall with the shell roof, and lack of ornate decorations.

With over 3000 seats, it is one of the larger venues in town. On this day the roadies were setting up for a concert.










Our final stop was the Palacio Municipal, or City Hall. It is connected to the Edificio Del Diario La Prensa (a newspaper). Together they make up the Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture).

They are very impressive, ornate buildings.






























Buenos Aires – October 2019 – La Chacarita Cemetery

While Buenos Aires is home to the famed Recoleta Cemetery, it is by no means the only impressive cemetery in town.

We went on a tour of La Chacarita Cemetery with Pablo, an interesting person with a vast amount of knowledge of the history of the city.




While it has some similarities to Recoleta, it is much larger.



There are many massive tombs that were used for societies, as this one dedicated to, and for the use of people of the Spanish immigrants society.





Chacarita has more famous Argentinians than Recoleta, including Jorge Newberry. Jorge lead a very interesting, if short, life as an early aviator.

One of the two airports for Buenos Aires is named after Jorge. He died in an early attempt to fly over the Andes Mountains. The plaques on the wall are dedications to him from other groups.



While most of the crypts are well kept, some are in need of repair.



Carlos Gadel was a singer, songwriter and actor. It is said he gave Sinatra pointers on how to become a more polished performer.

People often leave lit cigarettes in his right hand for good luck.



More scenes of Chacarita…
















But there is more to Chacarita than the large crypts, much much more. Built in the brutalist style there is a massive underground area.

It is an unreal sight with over 1/4 million people entombed below.















Beyond this area is an area dedicated to famous Argentina performers. These are not just statues, the performers are actually buried here.





Beyond that area is a massive ‘common grounds’




The crematorium is in the center of the cemetery. The place is so large taxi’s troll through looking for fares.

One urban legend says to never take a taxi in the cemetery – if you look in the mirror the driver will not have a reflection.




Additional monuments are scattered throughout.




Another stunning sight is the perimeter wall – it is lined with more crypts. In all there are well over a million people in the cemetery.




For the most part the cemetery is in nice shape, however there are portions that need some repair, as shown below.




We spent over 2 hours wandering about La Chacarita Cemetery. It was an amazing, and visually stunning experience.




When in Buenos Aires look up Pablo, under Walks with Pablo. He is an excellent guide.






Buenos Aires – October 2019 – Historic Coffee Shops and Bars

In 2000 the city of Buenos Aires passed a law that each October 26 will forever be ‘Day of Buenos Aires Bars’, as on that date in 1894 the famed cafe Tortoni first opened.

As part of this the historic society offered a walking tour of the historic bars and cafes of the city each October 26th.




We started outside the Colonial Bar/Cafe. This building still contains some of the bricks of the original building in the colonial area, made of baked clay and straw. It has been a favorite of journalists and writers during it’s 100 year existence, and has been featured in a number of movies.




The Otto Wulff Building is directly across the street from the Colonial Bar. It is not known so much for the very stylish Starbucks on the first floor, but rather the building itself.

Designed by Danish architect Morten Ronnow, it is one of several in the city with his signature look.




The columns of human figures are known as atlantes, and represent the arts and crafts used in the building.



During a 2012 remodeling, the wooden door was restored to it’s original splendor.



While not officially part of the tour, we passed by the Rey Castro. It is a ‘Disco Dinner Show’ theater, that transforms into a bowling alley, then a full blown disco. Oh yeah – it has absolutely nothing to do with Cuba or Castro.



The El Querandi is one of the original Tango Bars of the city, located in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo.



They believe in keeping the tradition alive, while offering a high end dining experience.



The Puerto Rico Cafe is also on the list of ‘notable bars and cafes’. Originally opened in 1887, it moved to this location in 1925.



Their medialunas are excellent (a long tour required a snack!)




The Liberia de Avila is the oldest bookstore in Buenos Aires, dating from the early 1800s. In 1926 the old building was destroyed, and this one was construction, but the bookstore remains.



Our guide lead us on to the most famous cafe of all…




The Cade Tortoni! There is always a line of tourists out the door.




The Castelar Hotel dates from 1929, and in those 90 years has hosted everyone from artists to revolutionaries. Even the construction of the hotel is controversial, as they flaunted the Avenida de Mayo height regulations by tilting the roofline back, to add a 14th floor.




Our tour finished outside the second oldest bar in the city, the Ibiera. Dating from 1897, it too hosted radicals, and other politically minded people. Many of them had exited Spain during a war, and settled in BA. Today the corner is known as the ‘most Spanish corner of Buenos Aires’, with the numerous Spanish restaurants and bars.

While the tour was in Spanish only, it gave us a good overview of the history of the bars and cafes of the city, and we came away with a few more Spanish words.






Elmhurst, Illinois – October 2019 – Mies at the Museum

The Elmhurst, Illinois Art Museum is located in on a small campus in suburban Chicago. In addition to a couple of galleries, they have a space that local artists continue to work.










We did not however make the trip out to the ‘burbs for the paintings. We were here to see one of the few houses that famed architect Mies Van Der Rohe designed. Designed in 1952, it was moved in the 1990s to the art museum campus.

It is considered one of the classics of mid century modern.



The museum has done their own interpretation of the furnishings and artwork throughout.