The oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires is San Telmo. Underneath the neighborhood is a labyrinth of almost 2 kilometers of tunnels. The first of these were built as escape routes for Jesuits in the late 1700s.
Later in the 1800s they were expanded and used to reroute a creek. In the early 1900s they were abandoned and stayed that way until someone purchased one of the old large houses and started to restore it – accidentally finding the tunnels.
Today a number of them serve as an events center and art museum.
The Teatro Colon is considered by many as one of the best opera houses in the world.
The theater was completed in 1908, with a four year restoration finishing in 2010.
The entry hall and initial rooms have many artistic details.
The main hall has room for over 3000, including standing room. The acoustics in the hall are legendary, so perfect you can hear people on the stage having a normal conversation from anywhere in the hall.
Early in our time in Buenos Aires I made a stop, and a posting, on the Palacio de Aqua Corrientes – the Palace of Running Water. This time we get a more in depth look at the building, and what it contains.
The exterior is of course amazing. Comprised of over 300,000 terra cotta tiles from Royal Doulton, it is the best looking building in the city.
While it still functions as a pumping and water storage station, as well as an office for the water company, it has a nice museum.
We caught up to a tour that was going to the library, crossing this great tile floor.
A large area off of the main water museum had an art exhibit from recycled materials.
From this space we had a view of the interior sections.
Including the giant water storage tanks.
The Palacio de Aqua Corrients – one amazing place.
In the early part of the 1900s Buenos Aires had plenty of money, as it served as the meat and grain market for much of Europe. As a result there are many grand buildings from that era throughout the city, including numerous in the Art Nouveau style.
Much of the ornamentation of these buildings are on the upper floors, so when we went on a tour with the Art Nouveau club we spent much of the morning looking up – as did everyone who was walking by on the sidewalks.
Our tour met at the very cool Savoy Hotel on Callao. Before we started down the street we checked out the interior – including the bar (which was closed at the time!)
Across the street from the Savoy is a Louis Duboise classic apartment building. Duboise is considered one of the fathers of the movement in Buenos Aires.
The corner of Callao and Mitre have examples on all 4 corners.
Just down the street is the Palacio del Congresso Nacional Argentino, aka – The National Congress Building. While not Art Nouveau, it none the less has a lot of interesting detail.
The tour continued down Rivadavia.
The building at Rivadavia 2009 has a glass dome with more than 950 pieces of mirrored glass. In addition the terrace has iron replicas of the Dragon Gate in Barcelona.
Rivadavia has a number of great buildings.
Even some of the garages in this area are designed in the style.
On Hipolito Yrigoyen are two amazing buildings directly across from each other. At 2562 is Casa Calise, the work of Viginio Colombo.
With numerous statues from Ercole Pasina, it looks like a palace, but since it’s completion in 1911 it has always been an apartment building.
While across the street is another Colombo apartment building with amazing style.
As we returned to Rivadavia the area became far more commercial however there are still some Art Nouveau examples that have survived.
Once Train Station anchors the neighborhood. Built in the Renaissance style in the 1890s, it continues to serve tens of thousands of commuters each day.
We headed over to Corrientes for our final stops, passing by this classic Bank of Argentina building.
Our final stop is Abasto. For nearly 100 years buildings on this site, including this one, served as the main produce market for the city.
Today it is a shopping mall.
But an amazing architectural mall. The Art Nouveau tour was operated by the Art Nouveau Club of Buenos Aires – it was well done and thorough, showing us many places we likely would’ve never seen in the city.