Browse: Plaza Dorrego

Plaza Dorrego

Buenos Aires “Must Do”

San Telmo Outdoor Market

Spending a Sunday in and around Plaza Dorrego is one of the few things that ranks as a ‘must do’ sightseeing attraction for visitors to Buenos Aires. On the seventh day of the week, when the rest of the city is resting, the city closes much of neighboring Defensa street to traffic, and this part of San Telmo explodes into a mass of around 8,000 people, locals and tourists alike. They come to peruse antiques and knick knacks, watch the outdoor tango dancing and other performers, sit for a coffee or beer outside a classic old cafe, or just aimlessly wander around the interesting chaos. This, more or less, is the Plaza Dorrego Sunday market, also known as the Feria de San Telmo.

Some San Telmo History

The Dorrego Bar in San Telmo

Plaza Dorrego is one of the oldest public spaces in the city, dating back to the 18th century, when it was an area reserved for the wagons that brought in produce to Buenos Aires from all over the country. Just before the turn of the 19th century it was turned into a public square. The coffee shops and bars surrounding the Plaza only sprung up in the 1930s, when it became an area for wine, song and dance, as it remains today. Bar Plaza Dorrego is the most famous of these establishments, with its lovely old wooden fixtures and counter, although the former has been etched with graffiti over the years – but then many would say this adds to its charm.

Plaza Dorrego Sunday Market / Feria de San Telmo

Tango Dancers in Plaza Dorrego, San TelmoThe market started in 1970, and it is still going strong with more than 270 stands offering antiques, phonographs, period clothes, jewelery, old books, crafts items and other knickknacks. It is open on Sundays from around 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. While this fair is going on, Argentine tango and folklore singers and dancers, and other performers, put on outdoor shows throughout the day.

If you have no more than a casual interest in tango, then Plaza Dorrego on a Sunday is an excellent time and place to enjoy an introductory sampling of the dance, if you don’t want to go full-out and pay for a proper Tango dinner-show in Buenos Aires. Also, in the late afternoon and early evening, after the stalls begin to pack up, free impromptu outdoor Tango lessons are often given in Plaza Dorrego, which can be quite good fun if you are not ashamed of making a fool of yourself in public.

If you don’t want to get that involved, it is nice just to sit at one of the bars that surround the Plaza and take in the action from there, while partaking of your favorite liquid refreshment.

Antiques Fair

Initially the outdoor market was antiques only. These days, to cater for visitors, all kinds of other knick knacks and local crafts are available in addition to the more expensive antiques. But despite this small change in the outdoor market away from tradition, this area of San Telmo still remains very much the antiques quarter of Buenos Aires.

Odds and ends in Plaza Dorrego Market Stall

San Telmo Indoor Market

Keeping up the antiques theme, nearby to Plaza Dorrego, surrounded by the streets Bolívar, Carlos Calvo, Defensa, and Estados Unidos, is the San Telmo Indoor Market, a massive iron structure built back in 1897, which fills the whole block. Back then it was a produce market, but when the outdoor fair started in 1970, it soon shifted to antiques, and these days it is just as interesting to wonder around as the outdoor version. It is also quite poignant to see a few of the food produce stalls holding on to their past trade, side-by-side with the antiques. Some of the smells are not what you would usually expect when looking at such valuable old pieces.

San Telmo market

[Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/denise_mayumi/3216605354/sizes/m/in/photostream/ CC BY 2.0 ]

Defensa Street

The nearby street of Defensa is also full of antique shops, most of which contain items far out of many tourists’ price range. However, they still make for a nice spot of window shopping, looking through the Argentine and European period pictures, 18th and 19th century furniture, jewelry, colonial silver and classic toys. In fact, this area of San Telmo is now considered one of the most important antiques centers in the whole of Latin America. And yet strangely, there seems to be an obsession with selling plain old soda siphons, as pictured below (although actually, they can be quite beautiful when many different colored siphons are all displayed together on one stall).

Soda Siphons in Plaza Dorrego Market Stall

Whether or not you do buy anything, you are still sure to have a great time in and around Plaza Dorrego on a Sunday – a true Buenos Aires experience.

Location of Plaza Dorrego

Corner of Defensa and Humberto Primo, San Telmo

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Comments

20 Responses to “Plaza Dorrego”

  1. Nina on November 27th, 2006 10:04 pm

    I bought a couple of things in Dorrego,including a soda siphon!just like your photo..
    can you tell me where in Buenos Aires is the best place to buy fashionable cheap clothes??
    thanks a lot.

    [Reply]

  2. Alan Patrick on November 29th, 2006 2:36 am

    Hi Nina.

    Thanks for leaving me a comment. I love comments!

    I think that in and around Plaza Serrano in Palermo Soho is an excellent place to look for the type of clothes you describe, especially on weekends when they have an afternoon/early evening clothes market.

    I will be writing a blog post about this fairly soon, so please keep checking back for updates, or subscribe to my feed (see the very top right of the page). :)

    [Reply]

  3. Doris Dorrego on December 9th, 2006 3:02 pm

    Hi! I really enjoy these pictures of Plaza Dorrego. My family believes we may have Argentinian roots and dream of visiting one day. Thanks to your wonderful fotos, we must definitely hoist a cold one at Barra Dorrego. ciao!

    [Reply]

  4. Rachel on December 10th, 2006 5:02 pm

    Hi there! Great site.. we’re visiting BA next week and are really excited.. one question I have for you.. where is the best place to buy the leather goods I’ve heard others rave about??

    [Reply]

  5. Alan Patrick on December 10th, 2006 11:55 am

    Hi Doris! I hope you get to visit Argentina one day soon.

    Thanks for the nice words :)

    I believe Plaza Dorrego was named in honor of Manuel Dorrego, an Argentine soldier and one time governor of Buenos Aires. You can find a little bit more about him here…

    http://famousamericans.net/manueldorrego/

    Maybe an old relative? If he was, you could also visit his tomb in Recoleta cemetery, where he was laid to rest by Juan Manuel de Rosas after being executed by Juan Lavalle (both of those guys also have impressive tombs in the cemetery, so many people that fought and killed each other and they are so close in death!), here’s a picture of his mausoleum…

    http://www.buenosairestravelrent.com/postcards_detail.asp?post=118&cat=1&subcat=15

    And of course I’m all for hoisting a cold one at the bar of Bar Plaza Dorrego! Any excuse… ;)

    [Reply]

  6. Alan Patrick on December 11th, 2006 12:15 pm

    Hello Rachel,

    Thanks for the nice feedback about my website, always welcome!

    As for leather, there are a few areas with different levels of quality/prices…

    Most people probably go to the leather shops on Florida street, which are OK, and generally get a lot better in quality the closer you get to Plaza San Martin. The best shops here are around the corner of Florida and Marcelo T de Alvear, but they are also the priciest. Casa Lopez, in this area, is known to be a very high quality store here.

    A little further afield are the bargain leather outlets and factories for a few blocks around the corner of Murillo and Scalabrini Ortiz. However, shop around and haggle here, because both quality and price vary greatly. You can get bus number 106 to this area if you are feeling adventurous, or failing that, take a taxi.

    Then there is the style capital of Buenos Aires – Palermo Soho, in and around Plaza Serrano. Here you will find extremely fashionable designer jackets etc, but again, the prices match this!

    If I were you, I would shop around these three areas, and see what is right for you in terms of price, quality and style. The absolute minimum you would pay for a good quality leather jacket, for example, is I believe around US$100, which I think is still a lot cheaper than it would be in the US, and of course made from the famous Argentine leather!

    If you have any more questions, let me know. I hope you have an excellent time in Buenos Aires!

    [Reply]

  7. nathan on February 22nd, 2007 3:54 am

    i’m visiting BA for my birthday and i want to know if anyone knows where i can get some dress shoes made????? i want to bring a picture of a shoe i want and have it made.

    [Reply]

  8. C. Andrew, Florida on April 2nd, 2007 2:16 am

    I used to fly down to BA (flight attendant) and buy leather goods made for me from stores on Florida. Can you supply any email addresses or URL’s of stores that would ship to USA and make wallets or bags to order? My old ones are dying and I want to replace them.
    Thanks

    [Reply]

  9. Paula on May 23rd, 2007 9:41 am

    Hey u there!
    I’m Paula from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I wanted to say that I was surprised as I entered in this website, cause I love my country and I want other people to know its beauty.. and thanks to u, they can learn more about it (:
    Hope that everyone who come to Argentina will enjoy it as I do!

    Bye!

    [Reply]

  10. sookmin on August 30th, 2007 9:53 am

    Hello.
    This is great pre-study site for travelers like me.
    And you are a very kind host enough to answer all of the questions. Your answers are the way to understand BA.

    I have plan to go on a cruise which is round trip of Buenos Aires to Antarctica on January, so could you tell me where the port is and which hotel is the nearest to the port .
    And one more, is it possible to take look around BA for one day
    Thank you very much.

    [Reply]

  11. Cheryl on October 10th, 2007 11:25 am

    We will be visiting BA in April. We are music lovers, and would like to hear lots of music played by locals, especially of course tango music. Will we hear live tango music in San Telmo on Sunday, or is there a better place? We would prefer not to have to do the touristy tango house.

    [Reply]

  12. Ryan Blackman on November 15th, 2007 3:50 pm

    I will be visiting Buenos Aires again November 24. Where is the best place to purchase a nice, quality, inexpensive leather jacket for a man? are there any factories or shops that are not in the tourist areas that may offer better prices?

    are there any websites that I can visit?

    [Reply]

  13. Patricia on September 9th, 2008 8:40 pm

    I am heading down to BA next month, looking for leather factories that can custom make handbags in quantities for my wholesale business. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

  14. buenos aires first impressions | Wherever We Go on March 13th, 2013 2:49 pm

    [...] still a little dizzy but we’re gearing up for a day in the san telmo area of the city, home of one of the oldest public markets with food and dance and music. [...]

  15. Nelieta on June 15th, 2013 1:26 pm

    This is a great Bar and I visited it eventually in March this year. I loved the atmosphere. Great site!

    [Reply]

  16. Back in action | The Wanderlust Affair on December 27th, 2013 2:15 pm

    […] was the Sunday Fair in San Telmo. This is a fairly well-known weekly event held in and around Plaza Dorrego, and even though my previous experience in San Telmo was less than stellar I trusted the friend […]

  17. Cynthia Battistoni on February 17th, 2014 1:00 am

    Hello,
    We are going yo Argentina in July. Will the markets continue through the winter? We will have our sons with us ages 8, 12, 24. They love soccer and would love to play while we are there. Do you have suggestions? Also will the estancia de Areco be opened in July? Thank you so much for your help.

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hello Cynthia,

    Thanks for your comment! The street markets do continue through the winter, you have the San Telmo street market (in Plaza Dorrego and along Defensa street) on Sundays, the Recoleta street market (in Plaza Francia, by the cemetery) on Saturdays and Sundays, the Plaza Serrano street market (in Palermo Soho, around Plaza Serrano/Cortazar) on Saturdays, and the Mataderos street market (see http://www.buenostours.com/feria-de-mataderos) on Sundays.

    To play soccer, I would get in touch with http://fcbafa.com.ar/en/ – your 24 year old will definitely be able to play there, and you can ask them if your younger sons can, or if not, if they know of an allternative.

    If you mean the estancia in San Antonio de Areco mention in this post – https://www.buenostours.com/private-estancia-day-trip – then yes, it will be opened in July.

    All the best and have a great trip!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  18. Debora on August 26th, 2014 4:23 pm

    Is there a place to see tango street dancers — performers maybe asking for money? (buskers?)
    We will be in BA during the week, so we cannot attend weekend fairs.

    All the Tango shows I have looked at either have bad views, short shows, other drawbacks. We prefer the energy (and price) of the street performers.

    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Quincy Long Reply:

    Hi Debora, thanks for your comment! The best place to see people dancing tango on the street is probably Caminito in La Boca. You can read more here: http://www.buenostours.com/caminito . Another option is to visit some milongas, which are the late-night dance halls where people go to dance tango all night long! We suggest trying La Viruta in Palermo Soho or El Catedral in Almagro. Let us know if you’d like some more information, and enjoy the tango!

    [Reply]

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