A walking tour of decorative details; Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Here’s a little walking tour I did in my second week,  less the directions I am afraid,  (I was too busy taking pictures, avoiding traffic and gawping at buildings to jot down the street names)  But I think you’ll be able to follow a similar route.  I started in my own area of San Telmo,  and continued for two or three hours, stopping to look at interesting buildings, and more or less winding through San Telmo and gradually into the large central district of Micro-Centre.   Along the way are some lovely buildings, spanning every period from the 17th to the 21st century.

The 19th to early 20th century ones are of course often decorated with every type and style of decorative detail, ranging from the sublime to the bizarre.   Here are a few for you to enjoy.

Starting in San Telmo…  As  one of the earliest areas of Buenos Aires, it has buildings that go all the way back to the original settlement the 1600s.

Here is a fine 19th Century door and archway,  with the frame above supported by these two lovely caryatids.

One of my favourite buildings in San Telmo,  this retro-deco classic on calle Defensa.

Another lady being supportive,  this time with her head only.  A corbel from the late 19th or early 20th century.  San Telmo.

Fine French. almost Hótel de Ville-style mansion.     I also especially loved this mad, huge plant on the front, the somewhat sinister-looking, well.. triffid,  crawling its way up the facade.

Lovely wood carved doorway….

Detail,  close-up,  from the top of same wooden door.

Man, in iron,  hammering something on top of an old building

I don’t know what building alas,  an old factory or workshop?,  a government ministry?

The same industrious gentleman,  still giving the anvil hell.

A few minutes later, I was deeper into Microcentre,  with it’s much larger, imposing buildings.  These generally date from later,  mostly from the late-19th and early 20th century

Then these extraordinary slave statues, pictured below, appeared…

They put you in mind of Hebrew slaves from Aida or the Old Testament, obviously.

But the style is pure “Empire” Gotham city,  massive 20s/30s deco, a la New York Gotham.

I love this type of stuff, and as we have so little in Dublin,  I got quite excited.    There is certainly some excellent Egyptian-Neo Classical in Dublin, notably the brilliant BroadStone Station and the National Concert Hall/old UCD,    but I think I am right in saying,  perhaps the only place you’d see this hard-core Gotham stuff of this massive weight (& quality)  is a few huge “jelly-mould” buttresses in the Guinness storehouse area of James’ Gate.

There were four  Hebrew/Egyptian slaves,  each different.

Then, as if the huge carved slaves were not extravagant,  mad, or “Gotham” enough,  I looked up and saw a 6/7-foot eagle carved in stone,  perched higher up on the building.

Here he is, below…  Mad, eh?

I don’t know who designed, commissioned or paid for this building,  but they are my new hero.

As soon as I finish my Hidden Dublin book I am going to hot-foot it back to Buenos Airees and do the Hidden Buenos Aires version.

This is an extreme example,  but this type and quality of stuff is everywhere.    Call me an anorak,  but Very exciting stuff for your corespondent.

Of course not all the best decorative work stuff in Buenos Aires is on exteriors…

For example I found this classic old turn of the century shopping arcade,  with this wonderful dome.

and in the same place,  look at the detailing on the old stairwell and around the elevator shaft …

Nice, eh?

detail of same.

That’s about it for now.    For those new to this blog,  if you enjoyed this post above,  you might also enjoy 2 other “picture-essays” posts from Buenos Aires,  “Graffiti” or “Cemetery in Recoletta”.

Don’t forget,   you can also easily get notice of future posts simply by pressing the tiny “Follow”  button,    located top-left of the blog-page,

Future posts will be about Dublin, its History, buildings and social life, among other observations.

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Comments are always welcome.

Happy Hunting-  Arran.

4 thoughts on “A walking tour of decorative details; Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  1. Reblogged this on Arran Q Henderson and commented:

    I still love these mad Egyptian slaves and the mad Gotham-city art deco massive sculptures so much. This was first written and posted over a year ago, soon after my return from Buenos Aires, so now its buried deep in archives. Coming across it now, it occurred perhaps more recent readers and followers might savour a glance too. Enjoy!


    1. The Egyptian jelly mould effect reminds me very much of some of the wacky mills and warehouses nineteenth century wool barons built in the West Riding where I was brought up. There’s one mill in Leeds buillt entirely like an Egyptian temple, flat roof an’ all, and the owner used to have a few sheep grazing on it. There’s also one with a replica of the campodoglio for a chimney. Not quite as exotic as Buenos Aires though, I admit.


      1. Hi. Well, we are tempted to think not as exotic, (as trendy old Buenos Aires) but I still find mills in Leeds every bit as interesting. (This is my cross to bear perhaps) Glad you told me. I’ve written about Egyptian revival architecture in Britain and Ireland before, even on this blog. Although I’ll admit that old post has a a lot of extra historical preamble – about Napoleons campaign , and conquest of Egypt – before I do get round to talking about Egyptian architecture eventually. But i love that whole style and type and period of building, And I’d love to see a picture of that that Egyptian temple mill building of yours in Leeds. Can you recall the name? Maybe I could Google-image it. Thanks for commenting Jane, really appreciate it.


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