Sunday, 11 January 2015

Buenos Aires: Plaza San Martin

We emerged from the Subte (metro) in the corner of the Plaza and headed for the rather over-the-top statue of General Jose de San Martin for whom the square was named. The General is a national hero in Argentina for leading the army in the armed struggle which gained Argentina's independence from Spain in 1816. (Independence was asserted in the revolution of May 1810).

Over to the right was the Circulo Militar, once a private house but now the headquarters of the society of retired military officers - a much more important body in Argentine society than it would be in ours. The gates were both imposing and impressive.

Along past the Circulo Militar is the neo-gothic Palacio Haedo, looking rather run down with its scaffolding and the clumsy arrangement to catch falling roof tiles. It was clearly once an imposing edifice however.

 We now walked across the square to enjoy a view of the Torre Monumental.

This lovely Edwardian clock tower was a present from the English expatriate community in 1916. It was originally called the Torre de los Ingleses, but was officially renamed after the Falklands War.

Crossing the eastern side of the Plaza offers an excellent view of the Edificio Kavanagh.

It was built in the 1930s in the modernist style and was for a while, at 120m, the tallest building in South America. It put us in mind of the Chrysler Building in New York, although without the art deco flourishes.

Walking along Calle Florida, the only pedestrianised street we have so far seen, brought us to the Galerias Pacifico.

It was built in 1899 as a department store and remodelled in 1945 and then again in the early 1990s to create a modern shopping mall.

Under the central rotonda there is currently an extremely kitch artificial Christmas tree (don't they know it's bad luck to leave it up after Epiphany?) covered in world's greatest concentration of Swarovski crystals. It was so awful, I couldn't resist a picture.

The rotonda itself is covered with frescoes painted in 1945 by celebrated Argentinian painters. Here is one example.

We left the mall on the opposite side into Calle San Martin to see the lovely Convent of St Catherine of Sienna, unfortunately closed today. 

Further along the street as we returned to the Plaza, was this wonderful art deco apartment block.

There were so many delightful details.

Conditions: hot and sunny.

Distance: a couple of kilometres.

Rating: four stars.

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