Buenos Aires City Guide by Barrio: Almagro Guide
Almagro is located west of Buenos Aires´ business district (Microcentro) just past Balvanera (which is more typically known by its three districts Abasto, Congreso and Once). It lies between Av. Independencia and Av. Cordoba and straddles Av. Rivadavia.
Almagro has always been a special district as so many different aspects of life in Buenos Aires come together in this neighborhood (barrio). Country houses (quintas) boarding houses (conventillos), schools, factories, churches, clubs, tango, poetry, political figures and more all come together in peaceful coexistence in this unique area.
There has been some discussion regarding the origin of the name of this barrio. Some say it was named for an 18th century Spanish barrister who owned much of the area, Don Juan Maria Almagro y de la Torre, while others attribute the name to his son and inheritor of the lands, Don Juan M. Almagro.
The Almagro family purchased this land, originally part of the San Jose de Flores barrio, in 1839 and set up their quinta on the corner of Av. Rivadavia and Medrano. Today at that very corner you can find Las Violetas, one of the most distinguished coffee houses in Buenos Aires.
The first people to live in Almagro were the Basoues (Indo-Europeans whose origins lie in the southwest of France and north of Spain) and were later followed by the Italians. Conventillos (boarding houses) quickly sprung up around the area to accommodate the influx of immigrants, many of which became famous such as La Cueva Negra, where colored people lived and Maria la Luna, noted for its fights amongst its many neighbors.
During the 18th century, Juan Maria de Almagro and Carlos de los Santos Valente, a Portuguese merchant owned most of Almagro and were fiercely opposed to urban development and Almagro remained a center for dairy farming throughout that period.
With the development of the west line of the train system, over the course of the 19th century, Almagro became and important industrial center and home to a series of hotels, warehouses and brick producing factories.
By the turn of the 20th century, Almagro began to blossom into the barrio we know it as today with the introduction of a tramway. By the 1930´s the neighborhood gained popularity for its proximity to the farmer market (the Abasto, now a modern shopping mall) where Carlos Gardel became famous (he even composed a tango entitled Almagro).
These days Almagro is a sort of crossroads of Buenos Aires with cars, buses and a subway (subte) passing through this area on their way into (or out of) the center of town (Microcentro). A busy commercial center with all the hustle and bustle of high-rise apartments, modern Almagro is more authentically porteno than other nearby neighborhoods such as Palermo and Recoleta.
This is the real Buenos Aires.
Almagro shares Parque Centenario along with the barrios of Caballito and Villa Crespo. With its winding paths surrounding a large fountain and its weekend market, this park attracts many visitors, particularly on sunny afternoons.
As noted above, in Almagro you can find Las Violetas, one of the most distinguished coffee houses in Buenos Aires, located at the corner of Medrano and Av. Rivadavia.
Almagro is also home to one of the world´s largest flower markets located at Acuña de Figeroa street.
Plaza Almagro park, located on Sarmiento street features a book fair on Sundays and a popular children’s playground.
Located just outside Almagro in the Abasto district (which it shares with Balvanera) one can find a more touristy area with rich roots in tango. Here you will find the Carlos Gardel Museum (located at Jean Jaures 735), plenty of tango shops and restaurants, and plenty of colorful houses with portraits of Gardel.
Just outside Almagro you will also find the Abasto Shopping Center, originally a farmers´market, which has been converted into a modern shopping mall with 4 floors of trendy shops, a large movie theater, a children´s museum and an indoor amusement park.
Restaurants and Nightlife
Almagro has a select number of options for restaurants and nightlife that you can enjoy. Here are a few to get you started:
Los Sabios (Corrientes 3733): an all-you-can-eat buffet of vegetarian cuisine run by a group of Buddhists. It a rather plain looking establishment but a great deal for the budget conscious lover of food.
Bar de Roberto (Bulnes 331): a bohemian dive bar that features some great live music.
La Catedral (Sarmiento 4006): a very hip tango establishment catering mainly to the younger crowd. Get there at 8pm and you can enjoy taking some tango classes.
On the 28 of September falls the yearly Día del Barrio de Almagro or ” Almagro Neighborhood Day which is marked by celebrations across the main points of the barrio
Pros and Cons
If you want to feel authentic porteno Buenos Aires, Almagro is a great place to go. Ideally located next to Palermo and just a few blocks from Recoleta, Almagro is a great location and very affordable.
On the other hand with its commercial nature Almagro does not offer as many entertainment options as places like Palermo, Recoleta and San Telmo do.
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