Buenos Aires Architecture: La Casa de los Lirios

(Photo by FJTUrban (sommelier d mojitos))

The Balvanera neighborhood is home to two stunning buildings, both designed by Eduardo Rodriguez Ortega. The first is a residential building with a façade reminiscent of Gaudí and is known as La Casa de los Lirios. The other is nearby and has a stunning cupola with an insignia in Catalan that says no hi ha somnis imposibles (which translates to “there are no impossible dreams”). And in fact, the beauty of the constructions illustrates this idea to perfection.

La Casa de los Lirios was built between 1903 and 1905. The facade is ornamented with leaves and iris flowers (lirios) that give the building its name. Crowning the ledge is a plaster face of an old man that is presumed to be either Poseidon or Aeolus, his son. The entrance and windows are decorated with fluid lines made of iron.

If in the neighborhood, don’t miss the chance to stop and admire these two examples of the gorgeous local architecture. La Casa de los Lirios is located on Av. Rivadavia 2027 and the cupola is on Av. Rivadavia 2009.

A New A Line

(Photo by casimira parabolica)

After a heartfelt last ride in the city’s antique subway wagons, the historic A line closed down during the Summer for remodeling and maintenance. Today at 8pm a modern new subway opens to the public. Although the picturesque wagons with their wooden seating, dim lights and manually operated doors will be missed, the new wagons will be air-conditioned and will once again allow tourists to stop at some of the city’s most emblematic historic landmarks including Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada, Casa de la Cultura, Café Tortoni and 36 Billares, Congress, Las Violetas and Parque Centenario. Additionally, the stations have been intervened by some of the city’s most talented street artists including Triángulo Dorado, Martín Ron Murales, Dame, Nazza Stencil, Georgina Ciotti, Stencilland and Run Don’t Walk.

 

Top Destinations in Argentina (outside of BA)

(Photo by teipsum)

Summer is the time when locals take vacation and in Argentina there are many locations that are well worth visiting during the year’s warmer months. Of course, the most popular destinations are the beaches, both in Argentina and in Uruguay.  The Atlantic coast is a favorite of many and some of the hottest places to visit include Pinamar, Villa Gesel, Mar del Plata, Necochea and Punta del Este in Uruguay (find a full list of recommended beaches here).

Further South, in the Chubut province is Puerto Madryn a beautiful spot that is popular for scuba diving and for whale watching between the months of July to December.

(Photo by Perfídia)

The rest of the Patagonian region is also very popular due to its stunning lakes, forests and mountains. Recommended places in this region include Calafate in Santa Cruz, where the famous Perito Moreno glacier is located; El Chalten, which is the Argentine trekking capital; Bariloche; the beautiful Villa La Angostura, and many other towns and hidden spots, surrounded by vibrant buzzing nature.   The climate in the South is dry and it is an area known for its cuisine based on lamb,  trout,  smoked meats, berries and chocolate.

(Photo by gkamin)

Bordering the Andes, a little further up north is the Argentine wine region in the provinces of Mendoza, La Rioja, San Juan,and Salta. This area’s sceneries are also stunning and there are several wine routes in which visitors can stop by different wineries and try everything wine related. The fiesta de la vendimia  (harvest festival) will take place in March this year and from the 26th of February to the 5th of March there is a fun-packed event being prepared by La Morada de los Andes.  (http://www.lamoradadelosandes.com)

(Photo by David Alberts)

As previously mentioned Salta is part of the country’s most prolific wine region and it is also the home to a large indigenous community and unique landscapes. This makes it a very popular destination along with its northern neighbor Jujuy, despite the scorching heat. In this region referred to as el Norte (the north), some of the top attractions are the Cerro de los Siete Colores in Purmamarca and the famous Quebrada de Humahuaca in Jujuy, amongst many others.  Along with Gualeguaychu, in the province of Entre Rios, this is also one of the areas that make big celebrations for Carnival.

(Photo by Carina_85)

Another very popular tourist destination is Córdoba, which is a province in the center of the country with access to hills, rivers, streams and small cascades.  Some popular places are Villa Carlos Paz, La Cumbre, Capilla del Monte (reputed to be a place with unique energy and alien sightings!), the German village Villa General Belgrano and other tranquil towns (including San Pedro, a hippie commune and Cumbrecita an eco town). This region is also known for its typical alfajores.

(Photo by bitxo)

Finally, Argentina’s most popular tourist destination is the Iguazu Falls in Misiones. The sweltering heat dissuades many but still the stunning beauty of these well-known waterfalls attracts many a visitor. The province is also known for its unique vegetation and red earth, and for a stunning location called Saltos de Moconá, which is a long line of 10m high waterfalls that can be seen when the river tide is low.

Argentine Olive Oil

(Photo by riccardo bruni)

Over the past twelve years Argentina has slowly been building its name in the international olive oil industry. In fact, it is currently the first olive oil producer in the Americas and the 10th  in the world! Much like it did with wine,  it is progressively building its notoriety, and is producing top quality first cold pressed extra virgin olive oils, as well as exploring with different varieties such as Arbequina (typical of the Spanish Catalan and Aragon regions), Frantoio (originally from Tuscany), Manzanilla (also from Spain), and Arauco (which some consider the Malbec of olives).

The main regions of olive oil production are the wine areas of Mendoza, Catamarca, La Rioja and San Juan, and also, on a smaller scale, Cordoba province.   It is the wineries themselves that have introduced these delectable and nutrient packed oils into the market, and also into the tourism sector. Just a few weeks ago, Mendoza inaugurated it’s Ruta del Olivo (olive oil route) where olive oil tastings, spa treatments, and the chance of visiting olive plantations and participating in the harvest and production of oils, are offered to enthusiastic visitors.

In Buenos Aires, boutique wine stores sell these new Argentine delicacies. www.mondoliva.com has an online store with reviews by olive oil specialists, and offers olive oil tastings in the city; a must for picky palates!

Buenos Aires Art Museums

(photo by majisabel)

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA): Set in the heart of Recoleta, the National Fine Arts Museum has 10,000 art pieces by renown national and international artists such as Quinquela Martín, Pettorutti, Prilidiano Pueyrredón, Antonio Berni, Goya, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rubens, Renoir, Degas, Chagall and Modigliani amongst many others.  Av. Del Libertador 1473, Recoleta. 5288-9900 .

Museum opening hours
Tuesday to Friday: 12.30 – 8.30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 9.30 a.m. – 8.30 p.m.
Monday closed

Museo de Arte Latino Americano de Buenos Aires (MALBA): The MALBA is set in a modern building and showcases an impressive collection of Latin-American art from the twentieth century. The museum, which has become one of the most popular cultural centers in the city, offers a unique collection of sculptures, drawings, paintings, collage, photographs and objects by artists from Central and South America. The museum also hosts film screenings and interesting exhibitions and conferences and has a highly recommendable restaurant.  Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Recoleta. 4808-6500.

Museum opening hours
From Thursday to Monday: 12.00 am to 8.00 pm
Wednesdays: 12.00- 9.00 pm

Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA):  Lovers of modern art are now welcome to visit the recently re-inaugurated MAMBA. The museum, located in the neighborhood of San Telmo, is made up of two exhibition halls with two different collections. “Narrativas Inciertas” is an assembly of pieces by contemporary and up-and-coming local artists. Whilst “El imaginario de Ignacio Pirovano” displays a donated collection which includes both local and international modern art. Av. San Juan 350, San Telmo. 4342-3001/2970.

Museum opening hours
Monday to Friday from 12.00am to 7.00pm

Saturdays and Sundays from 11.00am to 8.00pm.

Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (MNAD): The Decorative Art Museum is a palace from the beginning of the 20th century. Designed by French architect René Sergent in 1911 and built with European materials it is a great example of French architecture in Buenos Aires. Its marvelous collection of European and Oriental paintings and sculptures, the great hall and the impressive staircase make this place well worth a visit.  Av.del Libertador 1902, Recoleta.  4801-8248

Museum opening hours:
Tuesdays to Sundays from 2.00pm to 7.00pm
Mondays closed

Guided tours in English are available every day at 2pm

Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernandez Blanco: Set in the neo-colonial Palacio Noel, the focus of this museum is Hispanic-American art. An impressive display of antique and religious objects, furniture, silver, and paintings dating back to the 1700´s depict a key historic moment where two very different cultures collided to define what South America is today. The museum also hosts concerts, special exhibits and other cultural events. Suipacha 1422, Downtown. 4327.0272.

Museum opening hours:

Tuesday to Friday from 2pm-6pm

Saturday and Sunday from 12am-6pm.

English tours must be booked in advance.

Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta: This Spanish Art Museum, decorated as a Spanish renaissance palace and surrounded by a unique Spanish Muslim garden, was the home of author Enrique Larreta. His extensive collection of sculptures, paintings and furniture mostly from the Renaissance and Baroque periods can be appreciated in this ornamented historical landmark. Juramento 2291, Belgrano, 4784-4040.

Museum Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday  from 1pm-7pm

Saturday from 10am-8pm

Museo de Arte Popular Jose Hernández: Popular art and local artisans work are displayed in this museums, where you will find ceramics, baskets, knits, instruments and other handmade traditional objects made from local materials. Av. Libertador 2373, Recoleta. 4803-2384

Museum opening hours:

Wednesday to Friday from 1pm-7pm,

Saturday and Sunday from 10am-8pm

Museo de Esculturas Luis Perlotti: Luis Perlotti was a distinguished Argentine sculptor who dealt with native themes and indigenous imagery, as well as producing sculptures and monuments of local characters of the artistic and political scene.  In 1969 he donated his house and workshop in Caballito for its use as a museum. The museum showcases an ample selection of his works as well as displaying sculptures by other renowned Argentine artists. Additionally the museum showcases the late sculptors collections of native textiles and archeological objects acquired on his journeys through Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. Pujol 644, Caballito. 4433-3396.

Museum opening hours

Tuesday to Sunday from 11am-7pm

Museo de Artes Plasticas Eduardo Sivory: Ideally located next to the Palermo rose gardens this intimate museum showcases a collection of Argentine art from the twentieth century. Temporary exhibits are also held in this museum which aspires to promote the local artists and industry. Av. Infanta Isabel 555, Palermo. 4774-9452

Museum opening hours:

Tuesday to Friday from midday-8pm

Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-8pm

Museo de Bellas Artes Benito Quinquela Martín: An impressive collection of Argentine art can be appreciated in this museum set in the heart of La Boca, where its famous resident artist Quinquela Martín donated much of his work in support of the local art industry, and of the education of children through art. Av. Pedro de Mendoza 1835, La Boca. 4301-1080.

Museum opening hours:

Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30am-5.30pm

Museo de Xul Solar: This lovely intimate art museum exhibits artists Xul Solar´s  colorful metaphysical dreamlike paintings, and also some of his nutty but brilliant inventions, such as a new global language, and the Panjuego, a game which he made up and played with many of his friends including Borges whose books he sometimes illustrated. Laprida 1212, Palermo. 4824-3302.

Museum opening hours:

Monday to Friday from midday- 8pm.

Saturday from midday to 7pm.

Currency Exchange for Tourists in Argentina

(Photo by fotodiagramas)

Last week, the Government made changes to the currency market regulations allegedly to curb tax evasion and money-laundering.

In practical terms, this means that tourists should only sell their foreign currency for pesos at authorized exchange dealers and banks. And to change back their unused pesos when departing, they will have to show exchange stubs for at least the amount they are looking to change back to foreign currency. In both cases they will need to present their passports. Keep this in mind to avoid unwelcome surprises.

A Different Perspective with Foto Ruta Tours

(Photo by paukrus)

A camera is a probably one of the best accessories a traveler can have. It captures unforgettable moments, unique cultural aspects of the stimulating new territory being explored, and it allows us to share the beautiful things we saw with our friends and family. With this in mind and more, professional photographer Jocelyn Mandrake and her associate Becky Hayes have taken tourist photography to a whole new level on their Saturday Foto Ruta tours.  What they propose is to get to know the city from another point of view, taking their travelers through off the beaten path locations and setting creative guidelines for the photographs so that they can explore the local colors and characters through the lens from a new perspective, finding what they normally wouldn’t on a typical tourist location. An added element is brought to the experience as the tour group gathers towards the end, sharing and discussing the pictures and different interpretations of the guidelines.

The Foto Ruta tour runs every Saturday from 2pm-6pm and costs 100 pesos. Upcoming locations are listed on the Foto Ruta webpage.

Religious BA

(Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral at the begining of the XX century- photo courtesy of la hipatia)

The influx of cultures brought upon Buenos Aires by the strong migratory currents colored the city with a variety of religious practices and places of worship.  At each of the churches and temples, communities of immigrants gathered to celebrate their beliefs in their own languages and songs,  before altars built in the architectural style of each tradition. Religion was not only a place to worship God, but also, a place of congregation and belonging.

Now a days, as the descendants of the immigrants become distanced from their ancestral customs, many of the services are in Spanish. Nevertheless the style and cultural tradition is maintained, making for interesting places to visit and understand the history and multicultural background of the city.

Some temples worth visiting are:

Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral

This historic landmark was founded in 1580 as the first Catholic church of Buenos Aires. After undergoing various transformations due to the effects of time and the quality of building materials, it stands today overlooking Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada with a mix of architectural styles combining a Neo-Classic facade and Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque decoration. It is also where San Martin’s remains lie in a mausoleum guarded by statues that represent Argentina, Peru and Chile, the countries the General liberated.

Open Mon-Fri- 7am-7pm,  Sat-Sun – 9 am- 7.30pm

Iglesia de San Ignacio

Close to the Cathedral is the San Ignacio church built in 1675 by the Jesuits. It is one of the oldest churches in Buenos Aires and is part of the Manzana de las Luces, a network of mysterious underground tunnels and buildings built in the XVII-XVIII centuries.

Tours in English of the tunnels and church are available on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons with prior booking.  Tours in Spanish are available daily.

The church is also open to the public every day from  9am-8pm

Calle Bolivar Nº 225, Monserrat

4331-2458

Templo Libertad

The story tells that on one Yom Kippur in 1861, two Jewish men gathered at the Recoleta park to read their book of prayers and decided to summon a permanent minyán, that is a group of minimum ten Jewish men who together could ensure that God would hear their prayers.  A year later the group was formed and they joined to celebrate Pesaj. This was to be the first version of the National Israeli Congregation.

In 1837 the founding rock was placed and following with a mix of Roman and Byzantine architectural styles, the first synagogue of the city finally found its place.

Now a days it can be visited as part of the  tours offered by the Jewish Museum (which is right next door)  from Tuesday to Thursday 3pm-6pm and Fridays 3pm-5pm.

*Due to religious festivities the Museum will remain closed on the 13th-14th-20th and 21st of October.

Libertad 769, Downtown

4123-0832

Russian Orthodox Church

This ornate church with eye-catching cupolas in XVIIth century Russian style,  stands in San Telmo in front of Parque Lezama and the Historic National Museum.

Its structure includes five blue cupolas with golden stars crowned by orthodox crosses, which are fastened with chains that face east. Inside are two murals and elaborate symbolic icons amongst which the holy trinity stands out.

Open Saturdays  5pm-8pm and Sundays 10am-midday. The church also opens occasionally on weekdays. This week it will be open on Thursday from 9am-11am.

Brasil 315 – San Telmo

4361-427

Danish Lutheran Church

Also in San Telmo is the Danish Lutheran Church, which was founded as an institution in 1924, and the neo-gothic style Temple in 1931. The congregation found a common cultural place in the Danish Church where to this day many Danish traditions are still celebrated. Additionally they have a library with extensive Scandinavian literature.

The city also offers religious tours that take you to different temples on the first and third Friday of every month starting at 10AM. Book your place at cultos@buenosaires.gob.ar or visitasguiadasdgcul@yahoo.com.ar, or by phone: 4323-9410 / 4323-8000 int. 2855/2797

We Recommend: A Rural Expedition to an “Estancia”

(Photo by ChrisGoldNY)

With the arrival of spring and sunny days to come the span of activities broadens in the outskirts of the city where short trips to the countryside make for a great way to experience what the local culture is all about.  As your are probably very well aware of, one of the focal points of Argentine tradition is the countryside, home of gauchos and many an unfortunate cow.  The estancias are rural estates that not only carry out typical rural activities but also have a rich history depicting the settlement patterns and land disputes of this young country.

Horseback riding, polo, fishing, and Fiesta Gaucha (including folkloric dances and races) are all offered as part of the Estancia experience.

Some places to check out are:

La Candelaria Estancia & Polo Club

A top-notch estancia offering everything from gaucho shows to parachuting and massages in a gorgeous French style chateau surrounded by fragrant nature.

Estancia Santa Susana

This typical estancia outside the city regularly celebrates a Fiesta Gaucha with traditional meals and activities. This is a great day trip option in which transport to and from the Estancia is included.

Estancia La Horqueta

Built on the shore of a lagoon and surrounded by trees this natural haven offers canoes, bird watching, and horseback riding. Plant lovers will get a chance to walk around the estate with Enrique Pierri, an expert on the surrounding vegetation.

More options here.

Buenos Aires Notable Bars

(Photo by Mellagi)

This week one of the city’s traditional cafes, the Richmond on Florida Avenue, was saved from becoming a sporting goods store. Belonging to the city’s group of 54 ºBares Notables”  the emblematic coffee shop, which has been  frequented by renowned artists, authors and political figures, was declared a historic monument. Active participants of the city’s bustling cafe life will be gathering today at 4pm to give Confitería Richmond a “hug” and enjoy a rainy afternoon of warm drinks and conversations.

The Richmond, isn’t the only “Bar Notable” to have been at the verge of disappearing, and in fact, some, like El Molino, no longer exist. Thankfully, many others do, and have become a valued part of the city. The history and the elegance of their marble and mirrors, of their white clad waiters and dark wooden furniture,  makes sitting in these bars for a break over “cafe con medialunas”  an afternoon must. Below is our pick of top notable bars.

 

Most Popular- Cafe Tortoni

Cafe Tortoni is the oldest  and most famous of the city’s traditional bars. Frequented by celebrities, politicians, locals and tourists alike, who come for coffee, history, live shows or a game of pool, fill the large lavish parlors with a special livelihood. Just a few blocks away is Cafe Los 36 Billares. Also worth visiting.

 

Most Charming- Petit Colon

Just two blocks away from the Colon Theatre and across Plaza Lavalle is the distinguished Petit Colon, a notable bar catering to an elegant crowd of theatre regulars. The ornate wallpaper and the luminous afternoon windows dote this cafe with a special charm making it the perfect place to start the evening before heading to the stately Colon Theatre.

 

For Hot Chocolate with Churros- La Giralda

A warm alternative to coffee and medialunas for winter days is hot chocolate with churros. The traditional version of hot chocolate is the “Submarino” in which you dunk a bar of chocolate into a glass of hot milk until it melts. The best place to do this is La Giralda on Av. Corrientes, or, the nearby El Gato Negro, which also boasts a large variety of spices and coffee varieties.

 

For 5 O Clock Tea- Las Violetas

An assortment of cakes, sweets and sandwiches are served on silver plates in this stunning teahouse in the Almagro neighborhood. Golden chandeliers, Italian marble floors, and stained glass windows decorate Las Violetas, a unique place to indulge your sweet tooth.

 

For Barrio Tango Spirit-Lo de Roberto

Although tango is present in most notable bars, Lo de Roberto in Almagro has an authentic feel to its late night tango gatherings in which the crowds actively participate whilst drinking beers.  Close by is another small traditional bar worth visiting, El Banderin, which has its walls covered in football flags from different times and places.

 

For Late Nights- Bar El Federal

In the heart of San Telmo, Bar El Federal is a daytime bar that becomes a lively pub in the evenings when the crowds come for a typical Fernet and some dancing. The stunning bar has a wooden arch with vitraux  details and a stopped clock immediately capturing ones attention and is an inviting place for people watching and a drink or two.