23 Photos of the Shops & Market in Colourful San Telmo
The San Telmo market on Sundays is high up on the must-do-list for visitors to Buenos Aires – and rightly so! If you enjoy people watching, photography, and discovering some interesting or sometimes bizarre merchandise, then take your time and stroll around. Although, it’s probably not the right spot to find a unique gift to bring home for your relatives or friends. Some might even argue that there aren’t any typical Argentinean souvenirs.
Short History of San Telmo
San Telmo is one of the oldest suburbs of Buenos Aires. Initially it housed mostly dockworkers from the nearby port, and the brickmakers for the growing city. The current Parish of San Pedro González Telmo is actually dedicated to the patron saint of seafarers. In the early days it was simply called San Pedro, a Jesuit stronghold, that was separated from the main city by a deep ravine.
Later, as Buenos Aires grew, San Telmo became part of the city and received services like gas, lighting, sewage, and running water fairly early. This in turn attracted some wealthier people to the western part of the suburb. To this day you will find, often side-by-side, small humble worker’s houses and beautiful multi-storey buildings. They have elaborate plaster mouldings and double-width doors, with shiny brass fittings, which indicate this former wealth.
But in 1871 it was hit by a yellow fever epidemic which caused over ten thousand deaths, resulting in the decline of the suburb. Many of its citizens wanted to escape the plague and so moved away. Their empty houses attracted the newly arriving waves of immigrants, who made San Telmo their home. It became a ‘barrio’ of very diverse cultures. The multicultural and bohemian atmosphere in turn attracted many local artists.
San Telmo Today
To this day San Telmo remains a vibrant and colourful community. You find beautiful, sometimes quirky, coffee houses and restaurants, and countless antique shops, selling everything from kitsch, curiosities, to high-priced collectors items. In between you also encounter small fashion shops and alternative craftspeople.
Every Sunday there is a large market and most shops open their doors for the thousands of browsers who come and visit. Between stalls selling knick-knacks, clothes, souvenirs, handcrafted mate cups, leather goods, small artisan pieces, you can watch live performers and tango dancers. San Telmo is actually famous for its tango.
The market, with its vibrant atmosphere, probably attracts as many tourists as local people. Hence you should guard your belongings as pickpockets always favour large crowds. But it’s fun to wander along, peek into the unique shops, discover some interesting new or typical regional products among the many stalls which only on first impression look like anywhere else in the world.
When you’re tired or hungry you can sit down in one of the many street-side cafes or restaurants, to enjoy a drink and a meal. And don’t forget to watch one of the tango performances for which Buenos Aires is so famous for.
Have you visited Buenos Aires?
Did you go to the market in San Telmo? Or did you explore the suburb on another day?
Please tell us in the ‘comments’ below! We’d like to know your impressions.