Buenos Aires – Centro – Calle Florida
Leading from Plaza San Martin is Calle Florida, the BA’s most important shopping street. It’s kind of the equivalent of Oxford St in London except that it’s a pedestrianised.
It starts at Plaza San Martin in the Retiro and goes through the barrio of San Nicolas before finishing at Avenida Rivadavia in Monserrat. Together San Nicolas and Monserrat are known as the Centro.
There are heaps of fantastic buildings along the length of Floridabut its easy to miss them unless you look up. Most people are too busy avoiding the numerous buskers, salesmen and money changers pestering them at street level.
I managed to see a few thanks to this architecture tour.
Coming from Plaza San Martin, the first stop is Centro Naval at 810 Cordoba, where it meets Florida. Unfortunately the sun was too bright for me to get a good close up of the golden statue that sits above the doorway on the corner. It’s of a naked sea god blowing a conch while sitting in a Spanish galleon. The cast stone façade is also very impressive.
As always please click on these pics to get the best view.
Next stop is Galerias Pacifico (on Florida between Cordoba and Viamonte), BA’s most famous shopping mall, built in 1889. It was inspired by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan and has quite a history, some of it quite dark.
The cupola in the basement level has some frescoes that were painted in 1946 and the upper levels house an art gallery.
Next at 460 Florida is the Sociedad Rural Argentina with its beautiful Belle Epoque doorway and balconies.
On the west corner of Florida and Corrientes you’ll find was has to be the world’s most beautiful Burger King. Go inside, walk up the stairs and look up to see the stunning stained glass ceiling of the rotunda. The ornamental plaster ceilings in the other rooms are beautiful as well.
Midblock on the eastern side between Corrientes and Sarmiento you’ll see Galeria Mitre. The building was designed in classic colonial style and has an astonishingly ornate frieze above the doorway.
Not sure what building this is but the balconies are great.
Midblock on the west side before Peron is what used to be an optician’s shop, as alluded to by the pairs of spectacles on the bronze plaques.
If you look up at the tower on the western corner of Peron you’ll see the name Gath & Chaves, as the building was once a British department store.
On the other side of the road there’s a Spanish Gothic building with a big bronze door.
At 165 Florida you’ll find Galeria Guemes which looks like nothing special from the outside but has a stunning interior and beautiful ornamental elevators. It was designed by the same architect who designed the Confiteria del Molino (see my Avenida de Mayo post).
At 99 Calle Florida (on the corner with Diagonal Norte) there’s another Spanish colonial building with bronze doors made in England. The cupola is one of a row of five that mark the intersections along Diagonal Norte.
In front of the latter is the Art Deco monument to Roque Sáenz Peña who was president of Argentina between 1910 and 1914.
This statue marks the end of the walking tour I was following but on other occasions I’ve found some other gems on the streets around Florida.
Such as the Art Deco Teatro Opera at 1860 Corrientes, built in 1936.
Also Iglesia San Miguel Arcangel Bartolomé at 886 Mitre.
This stunning statue of Ophiuchus is in a square nearby but I can’t remember the address for the life of me.