Next to the Recoleta cemetery's main entrance is the BASILICA MENOR DE NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL PILAR (Junin 1892), which opened in 1732 and was restored in 1930. Twelve years later, it was declared National Historical Monument for representing a perfect sample of the colonial architecture in Buenos Aires built, in this case, by the Society of Jesus' architect Andres Blanqui. Its Baroque high altar is coated with silver and its interior holds a collection of Spanish sacred imagery, such as the carving of St Peter of Alcantara, by Alonso Cano.
When Callao Avenue was the city boundary, the district was know as Tierra del Fuego, where washwomen and slaughterers usually met and in this far corner by the riverside combined work and leisure. Years later, the Spanish immigrants used this place as the setting for the Virgin's pilgrimages.
Next to the church you will see RECOLETA CULTURAL CENTER, in the former General Viamonte Home for the Aged that closed in 1978. The building was declared National Historical Monument and was entirely rebuilt in 1980.
The works intended to save the original old parts were in charge of important national architects such as Jacques Bedel, Luis Benedit and Clorindo Testa. The huge wall surrounding the beauty displays statues that belonged to the Bank of Province of Buenos Aires. These statues made in Genoa in 1873 and represent science, arts and Production. The center is an active space contemporary art exhibitions (see our article on Museums) and the seat of the Museo Interactivo de Ciencias (Interactive Science Museum, see our article on Children).
The building makes room for a design and decoration mall, the Buenos Aires Design, which also holds a convention center and some restaurants in its terrace with a panoramic view. This park holds a well-know artisan's fair during the weekends.
Diagonally, the MUSEO NACIONAL DE BELLAS ARTES (NATIONAL FINE ARTS MUSEUM) (Libertador 1743), restored in 1937 by Alejandro Astudillo in the old building of the Water Supply Company, the former Obras Sanitarias de La Nacion rises (see our article on Museums for further information about MNBA's collection). A pedestrian bridge over Figueroa Alcorta Avenue leads to the LAW SCHOOL.
It was built in 1949 and it resembles a Doric temple, with its wide front steps and majestic line of columns. Its auditorium is used for conferences and concerts, and holds and arts galleries. Opposite the law school, along Figueroa Alcorta Avenue, the plaza Naciones Unidas (United Nation square) exhibits one of the latest ornamental acquisitions of the city - the FLORALIS GENERICA, a huge aluminium-iron made flower, with open and close petals. Eduardo Catalano, an Argentine architect who lives in the USA, designed the flower, had it built and later donated it to the city. The Floralis is a metal framework with six petals that opens during the day and closed at night. The flower is open all days long only 25 th May (First National Government), 21 st September (Spring day) and 31 st December (New Year's Eve day).
Along Figueroa Alcorta Avenue, next to the park, there are the facilities of ATC, the State-run television channel inaugurated for 1978's Football World Cup. ATC was the first color broadcasting company in the country. Opposite ATC you will find the Republica Oriental del Uruguay square and crossing Libertador Avenue the imposing building of the BIBLIOTECA NACIONAL (NATIONAL LIBRARY) (Agüero 2502). The library holds two millions volumes (considering books and items from the newspaper library) and is considered to be one of the largest ones in Latin America. The building, designed by Clorindo Testa, has six floors and three underground halls, several reading halls and one auditorium on the first floor, a venue of interesting classical music concert. The park surrounding the library is RUBEN DARIO SQUARE, where there is a monument to Eva Peron. The plot where the Library stands today was part of the Unzue manor, which became the summer presidential residence in 1937. There, the Peron lived, Evita passed away and the General remained until he was overthrown in 1955. Soon afterwards, the residence was demolished to prevent in from becoming a popular devotional site, or so they say.
Towards Recoleta, Ruben Dario square faces MITRE SQUARE (Libertador Avenue, between Agote, Agüero and Republica del Libano Streets).
National Hero Mitre's equestrian monument and Gelly & Obes circus are accessible by walking up the slope. Several corners of luxurious French style buildings meet in this point, one of them being the British Embassy.
A couple of blocks away, along Libertador Avenue towards Palermo, the MUSEO DE ARTE DECORATIVO (DECORATIVE ART MUSEUM) exhibits a collection of over 4.000 pieces that range from Roman sculptures to contemporary silverware. However, the most valuable piece of all is the building itself the former Palace that belonged to Matias Errazuriz and Josefina Alvear. The French architect Rene Sergent designed the building in 1911, although the breakout of the Great War delayed the construction works for six years. The landscape artist and decorators who participated in this project, as well as the materials (ready-to-be-installed mirrors, marble and carpentry) were all Europe. As a sample of it. The Salon de Madame, Mrs. Errazuriz's reception room, is embellished with an oil painting by Fragonard and a sculpture by Rodin.
Back towards Recoleta, at intersection of Libertador and Alvear Avenues, where Alvear Avenues starts, and equestrian statue by Antonio Boudelle, a disciple of Rodin, commemorates General Carlos Maria de Alvear. De Alvear, a comrade-in-arms of General San Martin, became Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the River Plate, that is, yesterday's Argentina.
Opposite the statue on Posadas Street, the quiet, aristocratic PALAIS DE GLACE (Posadas 1725) tells a story that has little to do with heroism, but much with local flavor- the Palais, built in 1911, was an ice skating rink that operated as such until 1921. Later, as wooden dance floor, it was the central spot for Buenos Aires porteño nightlife celebrities who met there to dance tango to the rhythm of Roberto Firpo or Julio De Caro's orchestras. In 1914, the Palais saw the start of a fight in which Carlos Gardel was shot-wounded. In 1932, the 'Palais de Glase Nights' ceased to exists and, in turn, they made room for the Salas Nacionales de Exposicion (National Exhibition Halls). With the exception of a period in which it operated as a television set, it still operates as an exhibition hall.
From 1880 to 1887, it was Major Torcuato de Alvear who gave La Recoleta its current French style by modifying the neighborhood's streets and promenades. The Quintana Avenue, nicknamed the 'Long street,' linked the old convent with the city historic area. Nowadays, the Avenue ends in La Biela, one of the best-know and nicest cafes in the city, opposite the refreshing, gigantic rubber trees.
Once called Bella Vista, the extraordinary Alvear Avenue was traced by the same major and named to honor his father. But he also has his own MONUMENT, a column crowned by a winged image, the Glory, with a bust of Torcuato and three bas-reliefs symbolizing his most important works, i.e. the opening of the Avenida de Mayo, most of the city's asphalt paving and the repair of La Recoleta.
The most elegant buildings line the Alvear Avenue. Amongst them, you will be able to see the historic Alvear Palace Hotels (see hotels).
Across Callao Avenue, Ralph Lauren has recovered the entire splendor of a magnificent petit hotel for its head office (Alvear 1780). One block ahead (Alvear 1690), you may see the old CASARES SMALL PALACE, currently the seat of the Casa Nacional de la Cultura (National Hall of Cultura).
A few steps ahead, the Duhau Palace holds the newly opened Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. Next to it you will see the NUNCIATURE PALACE, built by the French architect Eduardo Lemonnier.
Alvear Avenue starts at Carlos Pellegrini Square, a small square with a statue of this politician and former President of the Nation. The square is surrounded by important buildings such as the JOCKEY CLUB (1425, in the former Unzue de Casares Palace), the Brazilian Embassy (former Pereda House) and the French Embassy ( in the former ORTIZ BASUALDO HOUSE, which lodged the Prince of Wales and his reinue in 1925).
In the same streets, of course, you may find the most exclusive boutiques in the city. International brand such as Armani, Hermes, Escada, Louis Vuitton and Cartier alternate with the most sophisticated national brands in shops, the fashionable Patio Bullrich and the small and charming Promenade Alvear, wher you will find extremely nice surprises.
Fuente: Revista LUGARES (The Best of Buenos Aires).
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