Recoleta is now considered the most luxurious neighborhood in Buenos Aires. In the mid 17th century it was still open countryside used for grazing cattle. The Recoleta area is named after its first settlers, the Recoletos Congregation, who founded a graveyard which was expropriated in 1822 by President Bernardo Rivadavia, and later became the now famous Cementerio Recoleta.
Recoleta started flourishing in 1871, when a yellow fever epidemic forced the artisocratic families of San Telmo to abandon their mansions. This elite constructed newer and more luxurious homes in the Recoleta area, particularly along Avenida Alvear and Avenida Callao. Many of these palaces now house exclusive hotels such as the Alvear Palace, Four Seasons, Caesar Park, and the Park Hyatt.
Avenida Alvear is now home to the most important international clothing and jewelry stores such as Ralph Lauren, Armani, Luis Vuitton, Nina Ricci, Valentino, Ermenegildo Zegna, Escada, and Rocha among others.
Plaza Francia is a central hub to historical attractions such as the Cementerio Recoleta, resting place of prominent Argentines; the Basílica del Pilar, the city’s second oldest church; the Centro Cultural Recoleta, which showcases a wide array of artistic expressions; and Buenos Aires Design, a shopping center offering high-end home design and furnishings. On the weekends, the spacious grounds of Plaza Francia make room for a large artisans fair and outdoor concerts.
The area around the intersection of Junín and Vicente Lopez is one of Buenos Aires’ nightlife hot spots. The cluster of classy restaurants and bars gives you a choice of indoor or outdoor sidewalk seating.
700 block of Avenida del Libertador
This elegant historic building (once an auction house for collectibles, live cattle and horses) is Buenos Aires’ oldest and most luxurious shopping mall with many top end boutiques and specialty shops.
Parque Carlos Thays
Avenida del Libertador and Avenida Callao
This green space replaced the city’s most famous amusement park which was forced to close after a fatal accident in 1990. The park is named after Carlos Thays, the renown landscapper who created beautiful botantical gardens, parks, plazas and other green spaces throughout the country. The most prominent sculpture in the park is a masculine torso created by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
Avenida del Libertador and Avenida Alvear
This sculpture depicts the battle of Ituzaingó fought between the Argentine and Uruguayan armies against Brazilian troops. The base has four statues which symbolize eloquence, freedom, strength and victory. This monument is considered the best work of its creator, the French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. Other Bourdelle sculptures in the city are: “Herakles Archer” in Plaza Dante and “Dying Centaur” in Plaza Ruben Dario.
Zurbarán Cerrito 1522, Tel. 4815-1556 and Avenida Alvear 1658, Recoleta, Tel. 4811-3004
With two locations in the city, and additional halls in Pilar, Mendoza, Cordoba and Uruguay, Zurbaran is devoted to Argentine masters such as Fader, Molina Campos, Quinquela Martin, Quirós and Soldi.
Eguiguren Ayacucho 2038, Tel.4806-7554
This art gallery specializes in Alto Peru style painting, sculptures, furniture and silverwork. There are also Colonial, Gauchesco and Contemporary art pieces as well as thematic exhibitions.
Plaza Carlos Pellegrini
Avenida Alvear and Cerrito
The grounds of this plaza bear a great sculpture honoring Carlos Pellegrini, president of Argentina between 1890 and 1892.
Alvear from Cerrito to Plaza Francia
These seven blocks are the most exclusive in Buenos Aires. Luxurious European style mansions were constructed on this street in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these mansions have been preserved and today the street is lined with sophisticated shops such as Ralph Lauren, Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Luis Vuitton to name a few. Fine jewelry, exquisite cuisine and five star hotels can also be found along Avenida Alvear.
Avenida Alvear 1637
This building, constructed in the 1920s, housed Cardinal Pacelli who became Pope Pius XVII in 1934. The owner later donated the building to the Vatican and it became the Apostolic Nuncio Residence. This beautiful structure, with Academic lines in its facade and bearing a neoborbonico influence, shares a block with the Palacio Duhau and the Palacio Hume. Together they make up the only block on Avenida Alvear that remains unchanged since the city’s golden epoch.
Avenida Alvear 1883, Tel. 4815-1134
This near block-long shopping gallery offers exclusive stores such as La Cruz del Sur, Vivant, Zanotti and Tealosophy.
Palais de Glace
Posadas 1725, Tel. 4804-1163. Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 2 to 8 p.m.
This art gallery’s long history dates back to the late 19th century when the architect Ruiz Basadre acquired the property from city hall for the express purpose of building an ice skating rink. He complied and created a skating rink measuring 21 meters in diameter which was covered by a huge glass dome. On another floor, he constructed a stage which served as a cabaret until 1912, and later as a hall for gala events, including the ball that was thrown for the Prince of Wales. In 1932, it was transformed into the Fine Arts National Gallery; the current gallery was opened in 1978.
Avenida del Libertador and Avenida Pueyrredón. Fair Hours: Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This spacious park is the center of much of Recoleta’s activity. It is surrounded by the cemetery, a basilica, a cultural center, a shopping mall and restaurants. On the weekends it houses a huge artisan fair and young people gather on its lawns to listen to rock and pop bands.
Junín 1760, Tel. 4803-1594. Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Guided Tour: Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
This cemetery is famous for its artistic beauty and historical significance. Beautiful statues and masoleums adorn the gravesites of the nation’s founding fathers, former presidents and historically significant personalities; many aristocratic families also have their family tombs here. Among the most visited, is the tomb of the Duarte family wherein lies the embalmed body of “Evita”, Eva Duarte de Peron.
Centro Cultural Recoleta
Junín 1930, 4803-1040
This prominent cultural center has permanent and rotating exhibits of contemporary art and is home to cultural events such as poetry readings, plays and music performances. It also has a good bookstore.
Basílica del Pilar
Junín 1904, Tel. 4803-6793
This basilica inaugurated in 1732 is considered the second oldest church in the city. Its current appearance is a result of remodelings that took place in the 1930s and 1940s. Its main exterior features are the dome tower and spacious front garden. Its interior features a high altar in Barroque style and the Altar de las Reliquias (relics), a gift from King Carlos II of Spain.
Buenos Aires Design
Avenida del Libertador and Avenida Pueyrredón
This mall specializes in construction, interior design, home decor and furnishings of high quality and value. Its shops and restaurants are spread over two floors and a terrace, and it has two annexes: the Auditorio Buenos Aires, which hosts various social events, and Hard Rock Cafe, which belongs to the world famous restaurant chain.
Vicente Lopez 2050, Tel. 5169-6969
This movie theater complex, considered one of the best in Buenos Aires, has 16 screens and is decorated in the style of the classy halls of the 1950s. It also has a food court and bookstore.
Locos X el Fútbol
Vicente López 2098, 4807-3777
This thematic bar caters to the Argentine passion of fútbol (soccer). Its huge screens display the day’s games or past championship matches. The cuisine is informal: pizza, appetizers, vegetable and meat wok dishes.
Pabellón Municipal de Exposiciones
J.E. Couture 2231, between Vaz Ferreira and Avenida Libres del Sur, 4323-9510/05
Across from Plaza Francia (crossing Avenida del Libertador) you can access this exhibit hall which is host to some of the city’s largest expositions, conferences and festivals.
Visiting Recoleta – Avenida Alvear & Plaza Francia Districts
Location: Between Avenidas del Libertador, Pueyrredón, & 9 de julio
Main arteries: Avenidas del Libertador, 9 de julio, Callao, & Pueyrredón
How to get there: Buses 92, 130
Best time to visit: Daytime for shopping and sightseeing; nighttime for dining and drinks; weekends during the day to enjoy the fair.
Neighborhood Corner: Avenida del Libertador and Avenida Pueyrredón
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