Retiro

Retiro is centered around Plaza San Martín, an impeccably landscaped park just to the north of the city center of Buenos Aires. The plaza is a great place to sit and people watch under the shade of tall trees.

Plaza San Martín in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Plaza San Martín

Plaza San Martín in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Plaza San Martín

Plaza San Martín also contains a couple of monuments. There is an equestrian statue of General José de San Martín, and on the lower part down the hill, Monumento a los Caídos en Malvinas. This is a memorial for soldiers killed in the 1982 war with Britain over Las Malvinas (Falkland Islands).

General José de San Martín statue in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

General José de San Martín statue

Monumento a los Caídos en Malvinas in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monumento a los Caídos en Malvinas

Retiro is a wealthy district and the architecture of the buildings surrounding Plaza San Martín reflect this wealth. The large Art Deco concrete structure, Edificio Kavanagh, was built in 1935. It was once South America’s tallest building and the tallest in the world made of reinforced concrete. The building was built by a rich Argentinian woman of Irish descent, Corina Kavanagh. Legend has it that she built it as revenge against another wealthy family, the Anchorenas, that had disapproved of her engagement with their son. The Anchorenas had built a church in Retiro, and Kavanagh built the skyscraper to block the Anchorenas’ view of their church from their palace across Plaza San Martín.

Edificio Kavanagh in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Edificio Kavanagh

Edificio Kavanagh in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Edificio Kavanagh

The church in question is the Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento, built in 1916. It can be found just a block behind Edificio Kavanagh.

Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento

Continuing clockwise around Plaza San Martín from Edificio Kavanagh is the beginning of the famous pedestrian street, Calle Florida. Calle Florida continues all the way to Plaza de Mayo and is full of shops.

Calle Florida in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Calle Florida

Next is Palacio Haedo, built in 1880 for the Haedo family. They made their fortune exporting meat. The national park service occupies the building today.

Palacio Haedo in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Palacio Haedo

Palacio Paz, built in 1914, is part officer’s club (Círculo Militar) and part military museum. The museum, Museo de Armas de la Nación, is Argentina’s national military museum and has an interesting collection of weapons. It’s worth a visit and admission is cheap.

Palacio Paz in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Palacio Paz

The aforementioned Anchorena family lived at the Palacio San Martín, directly across the plaza from Edificio Kavanagh. The building was finished in 1909 and now houses the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

Palacio San Martín in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Palacio San Martín

On the north end of Plaza San Martín is a large clock tower, Torre de los Ingleses. Built in 1916, its official name was changed to Torre Monumental after the 1982 war with Britain. There is a small museum inside, but visitors were not allowed up to the observation deck during my visit.

Torre de los Ingleses in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Torre de los Ingleses

Torre de los Ingleses in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Torre de los Ingleses

Across the street from the tower is Estación Retiro. This train station built in 1915 is one of the busiest in all of Argentina.

Estación Retiro in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Estación Retiro

Estación Retiro in Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Estación Retiro

While Retiro is known as a wealthy district full of impressive buildings and five star hotels, it should be noted that a portion of it is one of the poorest slums in all of Argentina. Villa 31, an area that should not be visited, is located just across the tracks from Estación Retiro. You can get a good look at it from the highway that cuts through it.

Villa 31 near Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Villa 31

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