The Fransiscan compound consists of the Basilica, the Chapel of San Roque and Convent is located in Monserrat, the oldest part of Buenos Aires. This land was deeded to the Fransiscan Order by Garay and the founders of the city in 1580.
The very first church built at the site was, like Buenos Aires in the early years, quite temporary. It seems that nobody had really made up their mind to stay for good. Anyway, the original church was made of adobe. Construction of the permanent structure didn't begin until 1730, and even then it was substantially delayed, not being completed until 1754. The present facade and the towers date from 1907, after the existing structure basically became too unsound.
The main sculpture you can see is an interesting one. It shows St Francis with the poet Dante Alghieri, the painter Giotto and Christopher Columbus kneeling. Now why would these rather different people be portrayed? It turns out that all were members of the lower orders of the Fransiscans.
As churches go this is a single nave church. Little of the original is left, there was substantial damage to the church in the riots and destruction in 1955. One of the big attractions is the large tapestry attributed to Horace Butler- The Glorification of St Francis (9x12 meters.)
Interestingly, during remodeling and restoration, the head of one of the figures on the main sculpture was found to be hollow. In it was a letter from the original artist, (Antonio Voegele) describing who had done the artisitic work, who had financed it etc.
This barrio is adjacent to San Telmo. It has a lot of historical buildings including the Santo Domingo Church on Avenida Belgrano and the Museo del la Ciudad. It is nice to wander through for its cobbled street and atmospheric feel.
The Cafe Tortoni is the oldest and the most famous coffee shop in Argentina, situated on the prestigious Avenida de Mayo.
This cafe is like a history museum : it contains a lot of pictures, paintings, paper articles and furnitures dating from the glory time of the Cafe : the end of the XIXth century.
The Cafe was opened by a Frenchcalled Touan in 1858 was named after the cafe in Paris where the meeting of the elite of the parisan culture took place.
At the end of the century, the cafe was purchased by another French Celestino Curutchet and the Cafe became the meeting place of famous artists, poets and painters like Federico García Lorca.
The decoration is mostly Art Deco : sculptures and busts line the walls, massive columns compliment the vast wood-panelling with built-in antique mirrors, Art Deco lamps and dark wood give a warm atmosphere...
Captivated by this wonderful old atmosphere, I loved to drink there my fresh orange juice...and I completely agree with
José Gobello who wrote : "Tradition is the offering of the best of the past to the men of the present and the future... The tourist who arrives in Buenos Aires has the entire city in the Tortoni: the past, in its walls; the present, sitting at its tables; the future, in the enthusiasm of the people who work there for the sake of culture."
This Avenue runs from the Plaza de Mayo to the Plaza del Congreso. It is a wide tree- lined avenue which marked Buenos Aires` transformation from a big village to a modern city. It has a lot of wonderful facades that tell the glory of the past : the style of the building is neoclassic, eclectic and art nouveau... During the XXth century, a lot of famous persons walked on its sidewalks : Federico García Lorca, Carlos Gardel, Nijinsky, Le Corbusier, Jorge Luis Borges, José Ortega y Gasset, George Clemenceau, Albert Einstein, Arthur Rubenstein, Josephine Baker and many more...