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Mercado de San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

One of the entrances to the San Telmo Market

 

Markets are popular destinations for travelers and we've frequently featured them on the pages of this website.  Today I'd like to share with you the Mercado de San Telmo, a large and historic market in Buenos Aires.  

 

One hundred and fifty years ago San Telmo was the most upscale barrio in Buenos Aires but it was mostly abandoned by its wealthy citizens during a yellow fever epidemic in the late 19th century, its residents moving inland to neighborhoods extending from Recoleta to El Tigre.  Poorer people moved in to the abandoned homes which were usually subdivided into apartments and rented out.  Today, San Telmo is a state of "elegant decay" -- beautiful crafted old buildings which are neglected and in need of paint and repair, but still with some great architecture and excellent restaurants and Tango clubs to be enjoyed.  We'll discuss San Telmo in greater detail soon, but today I'd like to focus on its famous market.

 

Occupying almost an entire city block, Mercado San Telmo was built in 1897 by Juan Antonio Buschiazzo, an Italian-born Argentine architect who is most famous for designing the Recoleta Cemetery.  The market's age, large skylights,  wrought-iron interior, "used" look and interesting variety of shops make it a fun place to visit.  It’s where locals shop for wonderfully fresh produce, cheese, baked goods and meat.   This is where residents and visitors come to look for secondhand luggage, antiques, books, videos -- almost anything.  

 

Many vendors open their shops around 10 am, close after lunch for siesta, then reopen late in the afternoon for a few hours (schedules generally are not firmly set, as you'd expect in Latin America).  More stalls are open on weekends when the streets of San Telmo hold a very famous antique fair which fills the barrio's streets and spills into this market, but its busier then and I like the relaxed feel of the market on a weekday.  The market was my favorite place in San Telmo and among the best destinations we visited in Buenos Aires.  Be sure to stop by -- best to go in the morning or just before supper.

 

The market is a great place to explore and get lost in the history of Buenos Aires, and to revel in the bounty of Argentina's agriculture; to see what local people eat and get a feel for how they go about their everyday lives.  For example, the meat counters displayed ALL cuts of beef -- from the fine steaks and sausages to brains, to the tongue, stomach and intestines, liver, kidney, and sweetbreads.  Nothing goes to waste -- everything is cooked and enjoyed.  The meat counter displays are just one example of how things are so very different from the cuts of cellophane wrapped red meat we're used to in North America.  

  

Hope you enjoy the following photo gallery of the market.   More detailed descriptions of the photos can be found by clicking on the thumbnails below (if you're interested).

 

Interior, San Telmo Market

Interior, San Telmo Market

Meat display, San Telmo Market

Meat display, San Telmo Market

Meat display, San Telmo Market

Meat display, San Telmo Market

Meat display, San Telmo Market

San Telmo Market; a small corner parilla

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

Produce vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Snack stand, San Telmo Market

Dining area, San Telmo Market

Leather vendor, San Telmo Market

Antique vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Antique vendor, San Telmo Market

Antique vendor, San Telmo Market

Antique vendor, San Telmo Market

Antique vendor, San Telmo Market

Antique vendor, San Telmo Market

 

Attachments

Images (41)
  • One of the entrances to the San Telmo Market
  • Interior, San Telmo Market: There are dozens of vendors, many of whom are closed in the afternoon for siesta
  • Interior, San Telmo Market: Many areas are well-lite by skylights
  • Interior, San Telmo Market
  • Meat vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Meat vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Meat display, San Telmo Market: Prime cuts of wonderful beef raised on the Pampas.  Some of the finest beef in the world
  • Meat display, San Telmo Market: Uncommon (at least in North America) cuts of beef including (L to R): intestines, kidneys, brains and sweetbreads
  • Meat display, San Telmo Market: (L to R) braided intestines, tongue and ribs
  • Meat display, San Telmo Market: (L to R) blood sausage, soup bones, ribs
  • Meat display, San Telmo Market: Sausages; cheese
  • San Telmo Market: meat and produce vendors
  • San Telmo Market; a small corner parilla: A variety of sausages, beef and vegetables being slowly grilled.  It is an art!
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market: Not very familiar with this fruit but apparently some type of plum
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Produce vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Snack stand, San Telmo Market
  • Dining area, San Telmo Market: Loved the colorful assortment of tables and chairs.  The degree of wear and tear is very appropriate for the place.
  • Snack stand, San Telmo Market
  • Leather vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Cloth vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Antique vendor, San Telmo Market: Soda bottles.  Pressurized with CO2 to produce soda water.  Used in the old days to mix with cheap wine.  Bottles are now very collectible
  • Antique vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Antique vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Antique vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Antique vendor, San Telmo Market
  • Antique vendor, San Telmo Market: Among the largest spurs I've ever seen.  For the gaucho in everyone
  • Antique vendor, San Telmo Market

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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Comments (5)

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My first experience of a "Spanish" style market was in Menorca. A small island off the east coast of Spain. The Island of soldiers and cows the locals called it.

We had our kids with us as we went around the market square calling at each of the butchers shops. None had steak for sale - but would have plenty at 3pm ! So we returned at 2:45pm. We could hear the excitement but there was no one there. A few minutes later a bull was dragged into the marble floored market square. Kicking and leaping with a rope securely tied onto its nose ring. The Butchers all appeared with clean white aprons and meat cleavers. Some with long carving knives. The Bull fought against its captors - leaping like a race horse.

We turned the kids around and left quickly.

Now - where was that fish market ?

 

Last edited by GarryRF

It's amazing how much, for so many of us, our travel experience focuses on food and how people get it—and because public markets reveal so much more about local foodways than any supermarket can, it's wonderful to see these pictures. I can almost feel and smell!

 

With all the markets we've featured lately on TravelGumbo, including the wonderful gallery on village markets in Asia as well as the public markets in Europe, the U.S. and now Argentina, perhaps the food aspect of "Gumbo" is coming into its own!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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