The Bohemian Barrio Of San Telmo

The barrio of San Telmo, named after the patron saint of seafarers San Pedro González Telmo, is where Buenos Aires began. Where the Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza founded the first settlement in the 16th century, that grew into one of the most important cities in South America.

San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo Church

When its wealthy residents fled North and East after an outbreak of yellow fever in 1871, it paved the way for an influx of multi-cultural immigrants from across Europe. The new arrivals moved into the empty mansions left behind by fleeing former residents and converted them into Conventillos (slum like tenements), setting the tone for San Telmo’s working class vibe.

Much of that vibe is still evident and fiercely guarded by residents, against the onslaught of big business and greedy realtors. And it is that fading grandeur that holds the most allure for artists and visitors alike.

Casa minima

A walk through the cobblestoned streets of this atmospheric neighbourhood – with its crumbling mansions, artists studios, antique shops, and quaint bars and restaurants – does not disappoint.


You need to go on a Sunday if you want to witness its greatest attraction – the colourful Feria de San Telmo – and if you don’t mind crazy crowds! We do, and although this was supposed to be a watered down version because of the elections, we thought it was still pretty crazy!

Feria San Telmo

The terrace of a restaurant (Amici Miei) overlooking Plaza Dorrego proved the perfect escape, and a great vantage point for some interesting people watching. And here, we washed down our disappointment over the cancelled evening Milonga, (the Tango performance in the square that we had expected to witness from this very same balcony over dinner) with a bottle of heavenly Malbec.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

37 thoughts on “The Bohemian Barrio Of San Telmo

  1. South America, and especially Argentina, is somewhere I´ve not explored a great deal – yet! It´s on my list for 2014 🙂

    Wonderful photos, Madhu.

  2. I adore faded grandeur!! And what could be better to top off the day than Malbec? I love the pictures, especially the one of the invisible faced mime (??). So colorful and lively. 🙂

  3. Great post! There’s something special about being able to see the bones and scars of historic areas. It’s especially nice to see an eclectic blend of bohemian y “higher brow” attitudes that give the area a “come on in” allure. I loved all of the images, though the ones of the mate cups made me wistful to inspect them closer!

  4. Lovely walk with you around this beautiful and historic barrio Madhu, but did it feel a bit ‘preserved’ like a museum? Didn’t seem to be much grunge around!

    PS How on earth did you manage to keep the earlier shots separate from the gallery slideshow?

  5. my daughter, an architect, lived some weeks in Buenos Aires and was very excited by the energy of the city (and by the creative lifestyle of the friends who had invited her)

  6. Very nice photos, Madhu…I love those old inner-city locations with the cobbled streets and exposed brick. What a culture there. Thank you….

  7. I love how you showcase a city with history and your amazing photos. My world and knowledge has expanded through your blog posts. Thank you!


  8. Have been to Argentina – in Buenos Aires only for a couple of days .. visited Ushuaia a lot during my 3 months in Antarctica. Ushuaia had nothing of this color and pulse.
    They where building up for war with Chile in that time .. grey and unfriendly.
    I love you photos – I love street life photos where ever they are taken. Stunning photos again – my favorite is the biker with the wall background. Thanks for taking me here too.

  9. Wonderful set of photos, Madhu. That “faded grandeur” is so compelling, and has a beauty all of its own. The architecture in that first pic is so gorgeous. Love the street artist with no face…….fascinating and very clever. 🙂

  10. Wonderful to be able to immerse yourself into the fiber of a city, which you seem to do so well Madhu. Beautiful photos and lovely commentary. 🙂

  11. Fantastic post.Her in Southern California we have a city by the shore (San Pedro).Beautiful picture.jalal

  12. While all of the shots are wonderful, I particularly love the one of the bicycle pedaling past the graffiti wall. Nice!

  13. A restaurant terrace and Malbec? I would not have moved for a few hours…looks like a very interesting destination! I especially love your second photo.

  14. Beautiful pictures Madhu! I especially love the one of the biker. I really enjoyed San Telmo too. Really a beautiful area of lovely Buenos Aires!

  15. Fantastic! I love your cruisy style of telling it. How magnificent, to be there (on a Sunday!), to be part of it.

  16. So many familiar names here in the comments, Madhu. I would love this place but my wish list is not so ambitious these days. Happy to follow in your online footsteps. I never know where to go to find your latest offering so I think I need to subscribe. Be well, sweetheart!

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