The biggest park in San Telmo is Lezama, a giant green hill which fills up on weekends with sun-bathers, mate drinkers and chess players, along with some market stands. The park also is home to the Museo Histórico Nacional.
Eager to deepen our understanding of Argentine history, we visited the museum on one of our first days in Buenos Aires. It’s small. We were done in less than 20 minutes and didn’t learn much about Argentina’s history. I was expecting a primer in the country’s story, exhibits about the key points in Argentina’s development, but it was nothing like that.
That’s not to say it was a disappointment. At one peso, the museum is basically free and boasts some extraordinary pieces of art, including giant canvasses of Argentina’s revolutionary army, and portraits of its presidents. The collection of artwork and objects might resonate more with Argentinians already familiar with the stories, than with foreigners.
Parque Lezama itself is awash in history. It’s here that Pedro de Mendoza founded the city, way back in 1536, and the explorer is honored in the park with an impressive monument. Today, Lezama is a typically porteño mix of beauty and destitution. The colorful amphitheater on the park’s northern side serves mainly as a clubhouse/bathroom/shelter for homeless people, and a lovely path lined with statues is kept strictly protected bars.
Sunny weekends are the time to visit Lezama. Bring a blanket, your matecito, and (if you really want to emulate porteños) somebody to make out with, and enjoy one of the coolest chill-out spots in the city.