Barrio Monserrat is the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, located to the south of Avenida de Mayo. I started exploring the neighborhood at Iglesia de San Ignacio de Loyola, built in 1675. It’s one of the oldest churches in the city. Next to it is the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires. It’s one of Argentina’s most prestigious high schools.
Continue east and you will find Calle Defensa. During the week it isn’t very special, but on Sundays, there is a craft market that runs several blocks, all the way from Plaza de Mayo to Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. You can literally spend a half day walking through the market. Many classic porteño souvenirs are for sale, including plaques and posters with fileteado script, which originated in Buenos Aires in the late 19th century.
Along Calle Defensa, you can find the Farmacia de la Estrella building. This is the oldest pharmacy in town, founded in 1834 and built in 1885. The building is now the Museo de La Ciudad since 1969. Across the street from the Farmacia de la Estrella is the Basílica de San Francisco, built in 1731.
A block further south of Calle Defensa and to the east is the Museo Etnográfico Juan B. Ambrosetti. It features exhibits on several indigenous cultures of Argentina and South America. I didn’t have a chance to visit because it was closed the day I walked by.
Another block south on Calle Defensa, at the corner of Avenida Belgrano, is one of the more historic churches and convents in Buenos Aires, Basílica Nuestra Señora del Rosario y Convento de Santo Domingo. Construction started in 1751 and was completed about 100 years later. Manuel Belgrano, designer of the Argentinian flag, is buried in a mausoleum in front.
A few blocks to the west on Avenida Belgrano is Edificio Otto Wulff. It’s a strange building built in 1912 in the Jugendstil architecture (German Art Nouveau) by Danish architect Morten F. Rönnow.
At the very east end of Avenida Belgrano is a nice park with tall trees, Plaza General Agustín Pedro Justo. The customs building, or Aduana Central, sits on one end of the park. It was built in 1910.
Just north of the park is the massive Edificio Libertador. It’s Argentina’s Minstry of Defense and was built in 1938. There is a tank and monument in front.