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Argentina: San Isidro Historic Town

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San Isidro Historic Town | Argentina | Americas

[Visited: July 2015]

Just visiting Retiro train station in downtown Buenos Aires is already a treat: it is a monumental building where the rich history of the city comes to the surface. The train heading to El Tigre looks way too modern for the elegance of Retiro, but it efficiently takes me to San Isidro, in some 40 minutes you step off the train in downtown San Isidro, a little over 20 km northwest of the Argentinian capital. I walk straight to the Avenida del Libertador, the very long avenue that starts in Buenos Aires and continues to San Fernando, which is even further north. Unlike the wide, busy street full of traffic of Buenos Aires, the avenue here actually is a charming cobblestone street lined by old trees whose roots push up the pavement. I walk north, and reach the neo-Gothic cathedral on tree-rich Plaza Mitre, which from here slopes down towards the Rio de la Plata. After a short peek inside, I wander the streets of the historic town of San Isidro.

Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): One of the old mansions in San Isidro

Buildings here are one storey high, streets are narrow and most of them covered by cobblestones, most streets have trees, lanterns on the walls make them look even more romantic. I walk down a wider street, in the permanent shadow of old trees, turn, and walk towards the old train station of the Tren de la Costa. I pass a separate house which is completely covered by wall paintings, and the lower side of the Plaza Mitre, and walk down one of the quiet streets towards the Rio de la Plata where I find men fishing, one boy playing with a ball, and a couple having fun in the grass. After walking up a dead-end street, I reach the backside of the cathedral again, and turn left to reach the Quinta los Ombúes, a 16th century mansion which was inhabited until 2005 and now installed as a museum.

Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Trees lining cobblestone street in San Isidro

The courtyard, with its black and white tiles, arches carried by columns, colourful tiled bench, and hexagonal fountain with flowers right in the middle, is an attractive place. I walk the small museum, and enjoy the views over the lower parts of San Isidro towards the east, from the garden with its jacaranda tree. Every room has exhibits about life in this suburb of Buenos Aires. From here, I wander the streets and discover more monumental mansions, every single one unique. One of them looks particularly beautiful, has a tower, pink walls and green shutters, but seems closed until a car arrives and people come out; they turn out to be the workmen in the house. I have clearly reached the affluent part of San Isidro: even though there is almost no one in the streets, there are plenty of security staff in small posts on corners of the streets. It is getting dark, and time to walk back to the station to catch the train back to the city.

Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Painted wall in San Isidro
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): The Cathedral of San Isidro
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Inner courtyard of the Quinta los Ombúes, currently a museum
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Typical street scene in San Isidro with cobblestones
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Lantern and street sign of the very long Avenida del Libertador San Martín in San Isidro
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Wall painting on a house in San Isidro
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): White house with tower in San Isidro
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Trees and old houses lining this street in San Isidro
Picture of San Isidro Historic Town (Argentina): Orange tree with street lantern in close-up

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