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Basilica Espíritu Santo

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The Cathedral in Oviedo, Spain

Walking through Palermo’s charming Plaza Güemes, on the way to a lunch meeting, we couldn’t help but take a peek inside the imposing Basilica Espíritu Santo.

Sex in the City Girls

Built in 1907 by the immigrant Italian community, the basilica has an austere, grey exterior, absolutely void of ornamentation. The style is Romanesque, with two tall spires that tower over the plaza. The interior is a bit less dour, with decorative elements imported from Europe, such as granite columns from Austria and French stained-glass.

When we decided to go into the basilica, we were already about ten minutes late for our meeting. But the doors were open! And it looked so cool… surely, our appointment could wait a bit longer. We finally showed up nearly twenty minutes late, nervous and apologetic, but we needn’t have worried. The woman we were meeting wasn’t yet there herself. Punctuality in Argentina is a very fluid concept.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
History of Argentina

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April 20, 2011 at 8:49 pm Comments (0)

Belgrano “R” – Resplendent, Residential, Revoltingly Rich

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Hello boys and girls, and welcome to Belgrano “R”. Let’s play a game! Everyone think of an “R”-word that describes this lovely neighborhood!

Residential? Yes that’s right, Bobby. Very clever!
Rich? Indeed, how true! Gold star for Judy!
Ridiculous? I suppose that works too, Jürgen, though I don’t much care for that one.
Fascist? MICHAEL! Sigh, that doesn’t even begin with “R”… and put your fist down, you irritating little twit. There will be no populist uprisings in Belgrano “R”!

British Buenos Aires

The northern barrio of Belgrano is split into a few sub-neighborhoods, two of which are known as “R” and “C”. The letters come from the names of the train stations “Rosario” and “Central”, but most porteños assign different meanings to the abbreviations: Belgrano “R” for residential, and Belgrano “C” for China. We’d already checked out China Town during the New Year celebrations, and returned recently to explore the more upscale section of the barrio.

With broad, tree-lined streets and Victorian-style homes, Belgrano “R” is easily the most dignified neighborhood we’ve seen in Buenos Aires. This section of town was settled by wealthy British expatriates, and the gates and well-maintained gardens are clearly reminiscent of England. After a good lunch at Jolie Bistro, near the train station, we set off to explore. With sunlight filtering through the leaves of the trees, and so many fascinating houses to photograph, we couldn’t have been happier.

But the joy didn’t last long. The very first time Jürgen hauled out his camera, in front of a house which might as well have been a castle, a portly security guard shouted at us from behind the gate. “¡No es museo! ¿Que quieren ustedes? ¡Esta es una residencia privada!” Geez, we just liked the house. Sorry to have been impressed by a building clearly designed to impress people.

This scenario repeated itself throughout the day. Private security guards were set up on every corner of Belgrano “R” in tan-brown boxes that resembled phone booths. Every time Jürgen started taking pictures, some blustery guard would run over to us and start asking questions. I suppose that’s their job and, once their curiosity was satisfied, they always allowed us to continue, but it was awfully annoying. Even when we weren’t taking pictures, the guards kept a careful eye on us. “Strangers”.

Still, Belgrano “R” is a beautiful neighborhood. There’s clearly a lot of money here, and perhaps the exaggerated security measures are necessary. Anyway, enjoy the pictures… I think in the end, it was worth the hassle.

Estacion Belgrano R on our Buenos Aires Map
Hotels in Belgrano

Casa Azul
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Buenos Aires British High School
Jolie Bistro
Jolie Belgrano
Chicken Belgrano
British Fence
Security Buenos Aires
Angel Boyz
Super Rich
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Belgrano
Casa Verde
Purple Flower
Mansion Belgrano
English Ingles Belgrano
Film Set Buenos Aires
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April 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm Comments (12)

Iglesia del Santísimo Sacramento

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Travel Tea Bag

Near the Plaza de San Martín in Retiro, the skinny Iglesia del Santísimo Sacremento is not as famous or conspicuous as so many other landmarks close nearby. But as long as you’re in the area, it’s worth taking a quick walk through one of Buenos Aires’ prettiest places of worship.

Iglesia del Santísmo Sacramento

At the turn of the 20th century, Mercedes Castellanos de Anchorena had risen to the heights of Porteño society. Also known as (take a deep breath), Countess Pontificate Maria de las Mercedes Luisa Castellanos of the Church, she had the Palacio San Martín built as her family’s primary residence. The sumptuous living quarters must have nagged at her conscience; in 1908 she declared that, “If I live in a palace, then so should God!”, and ordered construction of the Iglesia del Santísimo Sacremento. Not bad. Someday, I’d like to be wealthy enough to condescend to God.

The great dame spared no expense. She hired French architects who outfitted the new church with Carraran marble, the world’s most expensive, three Venetian maiolicas in the altar, blue and white granite, and a group of statues carved from white marble. Stained glass windows display miracles throughout Christian history and the church’s crypt, which can be visited on request, holds the countess’s mortal remains. Apparently, she wanted to be God’s roomie.

Santísimo Sacramento is still known among porteño high society as the place to get married in the city. Little wonder: it would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful catwalk (or gangplank, depending on your point of view) than the church’s narrow and richly ornamented nave.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
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Holy Angel
Buenos Aires Organ
Church Bench
Eye of God
Glass Art
Holy Carpenter
Sleepy Mary
Wood Art
Mirror Church
Stained Glass
Tiles Buenos Aires
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March 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm Comments (2)

The Santa Rosa de Lima Basilica and Southern Balvanera

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Start Drinking Mate!

Before we began our exploration of Once, we spent some time walking around the southern end of Balvanera, and happened upon the Basilica Santa Rosa de Lima, on Avenido Belgrano. Built in the Roman-Byzantine style in 1926, this church is most impressive for its mammoth cupola. Santa Rosa was a Peruvian catholic from the 16th century, who would become South America’s first saint. She died a virgin at the age of 31, after having predicted the exact date of her death.

The basilica was the most dramatic building we saw in southern Balvanera, but we had a great time walking around this rather un-touristy section of the city. It’s the kind of place where you can get a massive salami sandwich for pocket change, and where English is nowhere to be heard. Enjoy the pictures!

Santa Rosa de Lima Basilica on our Buenos Aires Map
Hostels in Buenos Aires

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Awesome Church Buenos Aires
Dome Buenos Aires
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Peace Dove
Reflection of a Church
Stained Glass Buenos Aires
Santa Maria
Maria Balvanera
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Massive Church
Yellow House Buenos Aires
Cage House Buenos Aires
Sado Maso Buenos Aires
Coto Buenos Aires
El-Encuentro-Pizzeria
German House Buenos Aires
Lucky Shoe
NYC Buenos Aires
O Buenos Aires
On The Menu
Pink House Buenos Aires
Weird Cross
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Bar Balvanera
Salami Snack
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March 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm Comments (0)

The Metropolitan Cathedral

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A visit to the Cathedral in Oviedo, Spain

On one of our first days in Buenos Aires, we approached the dour neo-classical building on the northwest corner of the Plaza de Mayo without having any idea what it could be. My best guess was a courthouse, with those massive stone columns that evoke the Parthenon, and I was surprised to discover a cathedral behind the facade.

Metropolitan Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral has a history nearly as old as the city itself. The original wooden church was constructed in 1580, at the same time Juan de Garay founded Buenos Aires. Since then, it’s collapsed or been torn down seven times. The version recognizable today wasn’t finished until the late 19th century.

The artwork throughout the cathedral is beautiful, particularly the ceiling frescoes and the tiled mosaics on the floor. There are some pieces which date from colonial times, such as a 1670s wooden sculpture of the crucifixion. But most impressive is General José de San Martín’s mausoleum. Two guards stand vigilant, protecting the great general’s coffin which sits atop a large column in the center of the room. Martín is credited with the liberation of Argentina, Chile and Peru from Spain, and statues representing those three nations surround his memorial.

Signs at the cathedral’s entrance prohibit photography, but that rule is neither regarded nor enforced. Everyone and their mother was taking pictures; flashes going off all over the place. Although Argentinians identify almost exclusively as Catholic, the society is basically secular. Perhaps that’s why the Metropolitan Cathedral, where tourists greatly outnumber the faithful, feels more like an amusement park than the country’s most important place of worship.

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Buenos Aires Egypt
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Church Guard
Jose De San Martin
Cathedral Playa Mayo
Peru Urne
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Buenos Aires Tiles

Learn about Evita

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February 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm Comments (3)
Basilica Espritu Santo
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