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.