Photo by Hernán Piñera/Flickr
The Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore is a bookworm's dream.
Iconic and entirely worth-while moments to seek out in Argentina's capital city
If you are already ready for summer, head below the equator to sexy, savory Buenos Aires. The Argentinean capital is filled with European architecture and a Latin seductiveness that will tempt you to stay forever. Here are the six must-see sights in the city:
The seven-story Teatro Colón is not only one the finest opera houses in the world but one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Built in 1908, the theater covers an entire city block and features ballet, opera and concert performances. Many of the lavish building materials—Venetian mosaics, French stained-glass and three kinds of Italian marble—were all imported from Europe. The summer festival is currently running until the end of February, and the main performance season begins in March. If you are unable to catch a performance, take one of the hourly guided tours to get a behind-the-scenes look at the stunning theater and rehearsal rooms.—Cerrito 628, Cdad
El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore
The story behind the bookstore is just as interesting as the décor. The building opened in 1919 as a theater called the Teatro Gran Splendid before converting into a cinema, which showed the first sound films in the country. The theater-turned-cinema was then converted into a bookstore in the early 2000s. Much of the interior including the ornate carvings remain intact. Book shelves replaced the rows of seats, and the theater boxes were made into cozy spaces for customers to curl up with a book. Dark red curtains frame the stage, which is now home to a quaint café.—Av. Santa Fe 1860, 1123 CABA
National Museum of Decorative Arts
The 1917 beaux-art mansion was originally the home of Chilean aristrocat Matías Errázuriz and his wife, Josefina de Alvear. When Alvear died in 1935, the family donated the house and its extensive collection of European and Asian art to the Argentine government under the condition it be used as a museum. The elaborate décor features a ballroom with hand-carved ceilings along with artwork by Manet and Rodin. It is the only French mansion built at the beginning of the 20th century open to the public in Buenos Aires. Admission is free on Tuesdays. Stop for lunch at the adjacent Croque Madame Café for a delicious array of cakes and quiches before visiting the museum.—Av. del Libertador 1902, 1425 CABA
San Telmo Street Fair
Plan to be in Buenos Aires on a Sunday just to visit the street market in San Telmo. The heart of the market at Plaza Dorrego is focused mostly on antiques, including a row of vendors selling vintage seltzer bottles. The stalls stretch out into the adjacent streets and eventually, it turns into more of a flea market with vendors selling leather belts, fresh-squeezed juice, and Mafalda (a famous Argentinean cartoon character) merchandise.
A meal at La Cabrera is life changing. If you don’t have a reservation at the swanky Palermo parrilla (steakhouse), show up at 7 p.m. for happy hour. You will be seated promptly and everything (steak, salad, and even wine) is 50 percent off. The only catch is that you must be out before 8 p.m. when they start seating parties with reservations. Juicy steaks are served with an array of small sides ranging from pickles to purees. Salads are gigantic, service is fast, and you can take your bottle of wine to-go.—José Antonio Cabrera 5099
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