Antiques in the Streets – San Telmo, Buenos Aires

I have an extreme fondness for both outdoor markets and antiques, so when the two things combine I can’t pass up the opportunity to get outside and fall back in time. My dad is an antique clock nut (said affectionately) and I grew up being dragged around to flea markets and antique shops on the weekends. While he would look for his next fixer-upper clock, my mom would check out the furniture, and I would occupy myself sifting through books and comics, reading the backs of old postcards, trying on funny hats, and wondering about the lives of the people staring back at me in the worn black and white photos. Little pieces of history, of so many different lives spread on a foldout table or on a blanket on the ground; the pull is irresistible.

San Telmo Street Fair

San Telmo has a lovely aura of nostalgia that makes it a perfect setting for an antiques street fair. Beginning in the 1500s, this neighborhood attracted a diverse population of immigrants from Europe. As San Telmo’s beautiful 19th century architecture attests the neighborhood rose to be quite swanky. However, a yellow fever epidemic broke out in 1871 and thousands perished. The wealthier residents fled to northern neighborhoods, such as Recoleta, and the beautiful mansions of San Telmo were divided into low rent apartments for the continued influx of immigrants. The exodus of the wealthy after the yellow fever epidemic created an economic gap between the northern and southern areas of Buenos Aires that remains to this day.



Calle Defensa


A tour of any neighborhood in Buenos Aires would not be complete without a dog and dog walker photo. Porteños LOVE dogs (but be warned – they do not pick up the poop – so watch where you step!)


Plaza Dorrego is the heart of this weekly Sunday fair. We had hoped to see the tango dancers who usually perform here, unfortunately it was 100 degrees in the shade and that is exactly where the Tango dancers were – hiding out in the shade. But we were more than entertained perusing the stalls and people watching.


My daughter has been collecting antique books on our travels since middle school. She’s a senior in high school now and has a very interesting collection.


Her newest acquisition


Upon seeing this lighter my son decided that collecting these would be his thing. He has long admired Dean’s lighter on Supernatural 🙂 As you continue reading this post imagine a click-click, click-click, click-click constantly in the background because my son flipped open and shut the lid of his empty lighter the rest of the day.


Some of the fair’s available wares





My daughter purchased this watch pendant – her clock loving grandpa would be so proud!



“….the nurse called the lady with the alligator purse”


Fine feathered feather duster salesman


My husband and I aren’t big into chachkies, but I thought this old record painted in the fileteado style a nice souvenir. This style with its flowers, vines, and swirls has long been popular on delivery trucks, signs, and store windows. Oddly, after the coup in the 70s, the fileteado style was forced into hiding; the military regime banned the signs because they wanted only things with straight lines – how rigid and boring! Thankfully now this Porteño art form is safely admired.





More fileteado painting


Better than he was before – better, stronger, faster!

Proof I’m an antique. I used to love this show as a kid.


Mercado San Telmo is a huge indoor market built in 1897. Here you will find fruits, vegetables and baked goods, as well as curio and antique shops.






San Telmo has lots of color – in its streets and on its walls.



An English bookstore – a rare treat for us living overseas.




Happy with our finds and overwhelmingly hot, tired, and hungry, we ended our tour of San Telmo with cold soda and pizza at Carncol Cafe.


The kids couldn’t wait for me to take a pic. 🙂 Yummy pizza!

On to La Boca!

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