San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo Church

January 26, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

San Telmo’s Picturesque Church

You don’t have to be a Catholic to appreciate the beautiful colonial churches of Buenos Aires. God generally inspires some of the best architecture around, and in Buenos Aires it’s no different.

The San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo church is also known as the Nuestra Señora de Belén (Our Lady of Bethelehem) church. A good church can never have too many names.

A Little Church History

Some Jesuits named Blanqui, Bautista, Primoli and Schmidt designed the original and kicked off the building in 1734. That makes it one of the oldest churches in the city (but not the oldest, which is the San Ignacio church, just off Plaza de Mayo). The church’s architecture was then added to and restored a fair few times up to the present, which accounts for it’s lovely eclectic style. By the book, its style is ‘neo-colonial,’ but can also be described as ‘fancy iced wedding cake.’

Church of San Pedro Telmo

It’s very hard to get a decent picture of the church because the street is of the normal narrow, cobbled San Telmo ilk, and there are large trees getting in on the act – so bring your wide angle camera lens.

Of course, it is a National Historic Monument, which may sound impressive, but is a title that is awarded to almost anything of minor importance here in Buenos Aires.

San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo

Up the top of the church, in the center, you can see San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo himself. He was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest, born in Astorga (Spain) in 1190, and devoted his life to enlightening the poor. Old Pedro Telmo may not condone  all the saucy Tango dancing that goes on in his barrio nowadays… however, he is also the patron saint of Spanish sailors, so he may not be so easily shocked.

The inside of the church isn’t all that extravagant compared the the beautifully decorative exterior. It does display some nice oil paintings, your usual pulpit… it is more the quiet and peace that draws passers-by within churches such as this. And that’s not something easily found in Buenos Aires city.

Yellow Fever

Of course, life is not all lovely architecture and peaceful surrounds. On the outside of the church a plaque is found, commemorating the San Telmo locals that died in the terrible yellow fever outbreak of 1871:

Yellow Fever notice on San Telmo church

It was that outbreak that also changed the face of Buenos Aires a little. Previously, San Telmo was home to the rich elite of the city. The yellow fever outbreak forced them out of the area, and they found a new home slightly further north, in Recoleta, which remains the home of the extravagantly wealthy to this day. San Telmo turned into an area of fading grandeur that now makes it so attractive to visitors, while in Recoleta the dazzling French architecture that delights tourists in equal measures was erected by the upper classes.

Location of San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo Church

Humberto 1º 340, between Defensa & Balcarce, San Telmo
[Open Monday – Saturday, 8:30am to Midday and 4pm to 7pm. Sundays, 8.30am to 8pm – times are more restrictive in January and February however.]

Acabar Buenos Aires

January 24, 2007 by · 5 Comments 

***UPDATE: Acabar has sadly now closed for business. We’ll leave the below review online for posterity***

A Resto-Bar with a twist

Acabar in Palermo Hollywood, where neon rules OK!

Acabar is a very nice bar and restaurant – with a twist to make it interesting. The menu itself is far more interesting than the actual food, a colorful distraction to take your attention away from the sub-par dishes:

Acabar - cool menu, not so cool food

In the end, it is the “bar” part of “resto-bar” which is worth visiting.

So, what’s the twist?

Games. To spice up your weeknight, Acabar offers a selection of board games to help loosen the mood and keep the atmosphere relaxed. You and your friends can choose from old favorites like Jenga, Pictionary and Battleship – and don’t be shy to invite neighboring tables of people to play along with you (or against you). The games not only help to enjoyably pass the time, they can function simultaneously with your cocktail as a social lubricant.

Acabar: Nice name

Great name, in fact. Multi-faceted. Firstly, it has all kinds of comedy potential. In English, acabar basically means “to finish”, and those who are clever enough in Spanish can manipulate the name of this place into all sorts of sexual innuendos. Secondly, if you break the name down, it separates into two Spanish words: “Aca Bar” translating into “here-bar,” letting you know that you have indeed arrived where you wanted.

But the bar itself is great too. Besides the many wonderful board games, the wait staff are extremely nice and friendly, and there are usually enough of them around to be able to grab one quickly for drink orders even when it’s busy. And it does get busy, producing a happy, buzzing atmosphere full of mildly inebriated board-gamers.

Acabar is also HUGE, which is helpful for seating large groups of gamers. You’ll have no problem getting a table as the place opens up round the corner to the left and backwards, and just keeps on going, and going. At one point it feels like you may even have to traipse through their neighbors’ back-patios to reach the end of the bar. But don’t let that put you off your drinks.

Inside the Acabar Bar

And all of that space is filled with character… interesting old chandeliers, pop-art on the walls, lots of funny ornaments and bits & bobs, a hundred different types of wooden tables that have definitely seen better days but still add to the rag-tag look. All very pleasant in a hip kind of way, as you would expect from somewhere located in Palermo Hollywood.

Location of Acabar

Honduras 5733, between Bonpland & A.J. Carranza, Palermo Hollywood

Tel: 4772-0845 / 4776-3634

Buenos Aires: 6th Hottest Cultural Center

January 12, 2007 by · 8 Comments 

Sizzling Buenos Aires

Floralis Generica, Buenos Aires

Stan Stalnaker’s website Hub Culture has come up with a ‘2007 Zeitgeist Ranking’ for world cities, and our own Buenos Aires put in a respectable performance, sliding in at number 6.

The website states that Buenos Aires is…

“So hot! The Argentinian financial crisis has faded, but the incredible value of Argentina as a destination remains. This is fueling a buying boom in urban real estate as Europeans and North Americans establish summer homes and secondary residences here. Business remains slow, but BA is the hot spot of Latin America. Panama and Sao Paolo have heat, but BA sizzles. It’s the hottest “second city” in the world.”

The idea that a lot of rich North Americans and Europeans are buying property in BA because it is cheap to do so is not exactly something that makes for a cultural center, but the ranking speaks for itself. It is more likely that the slightly less well off natives and skint expats are using their creativity to make Buenos Aires a ‘hot cultural center’. Etiher way, getting this kind of ‘award’ has to be good PR for Buenos Aires, and is therefore not to be sniffed at.

Center of the Cultural Universe?

To get a little more idea about why Buenos Aires placed where it did, it is worth it to listen Stalnaker, the man behind the list:

“The idea behind the hub ranking is that at certain times in certain places, there is a veritable ‘center of the universe’ – a place where innovation, change and vibe combine to create the place of the moment. “The rankings are not about overt power or coolness, but that certain something that makes a place hot, on the verge, and really the place to be right now. It’s the place that later, everyone wishes they were at“.

That sounds a little better.

For a more concrete idea of why Buenos Aires is seen as hot right now, this Newsweek article provides an interesting picture of BA: The Capital of Cool.

And readers, what do you think makes Buenos Aires such a ‘hot cultural destination’? Please feel free to comment below…

[Top photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/4007754192/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

Buenos Aires > Local Life, History and Culture > CultureBuenos Aires: 6th Hottest Cultural Center

Pizzeria Guerrin

January 7, 2007 by · 25 Comments 

The Best Pizza in Buenos Aires?

Sign outside Guerrin Pizzeria

Pizzeria Guerrin is regarded as one of the best traditional Pizzerias in Buenos Aires, and definitely lives up to its reputation. This is a major accolade in a city where Italian food is so popular and widespread, due to the history of Italian immigration that provides the back bone for much of porteño culture. To read a little more about the Italian effect on culture here, check out articles on Banchero Pizzeria and Caminito, both in the barrio of La Boca, which is traditionally the main Italian community of BA.

But for now it’s all about Guerrin, and its fantastic Pizza, so read on to find out why this restaurant is a must visit if you are ever in Buenos Aires.

Moscato, Pizza y Faina

Something unique to Buenos Aires is the tradition of eating a slice of faina, which is basically a very thin chickpea-based pizza, on top of a slice of standard pizza, kind of acting as a second crust on the top, making a sandwich of the cheese, sauce and toppings inbetween. At first, this may sound strange, but is in fact quite a logical arrangement…

Pizza con faina in Guerrin

You see, Pizza in Buenos Aires can be a lovely, sloppy, cheesy affair. Placing the slice of Faina on top, as seen above, helps to neutralize things by acting as a sponge for all of the gooey mess. And it just seems to taste right, somehow. Why didn’t they think of this in Italy?

To make things even more traditional, the pizza and faina should be washed down by a glass of inexpensive moscato; a very sweet, white dessert wine. Porteños have indulged in this eating ritual for years, and again, it just feels like the right thing to do when sitting in a pizzeria on Avenida Corrientes.

Table Upstairs at Guerrin, with Moscato!

Perfect Pizza at Guerrin

Of course, the tradition would be pretty pointless if the pizza don’t hold up in the quality stakes. Luckily, at Guerrin, it more than delivers:

Pizza Especial con jamon y morrones at Guerrin Pizzeria

The pizza pictured above is a Pizza Especial Guerrin grande, the house pizza. This is pretty much standard argentine fare for a pizza, with slices of ham and long thin strips of red pepper, in addition to the usual sauce, cheese and olives. Highly recommended, especially when joined by a few slices of faina and washed down with moscato, to really get you into the traditional spirit of things here in Buenos Aires.

Location of Pizzeria Guerrin

Av. Corrientes 1368, between Uruguay & Talcahuano, City Center

Tel: 4371-8141

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