Described by Borges as “an older, more solid world”, the south is where Buenos Aires best preserves its traditions. Immediately south of the Plaza de Mayo lies the barrio of Monserrat, packed with historic buildings, churches and a couple of noteworthy museums. Heading south through Monserrat, you’ll emerge into the cobbled streets and alleyways of San Telmo, where grand nineteenth-century mansions testify to the days when the barrio was home to wealthy landowners. San Telmo is best visited on a Sunday, when its central square, Plaza Dorrego, is the scene of a fascinating antiques fair, although there are plenty of antiques stores also open during the week. At the southern end of the barrio, there’s the tranquil Parque Lezama – a good spot for observing local life, and home to an important history museum. Beyond Parque Lezama, and stretching all the way to the city’s southern boundary, the Río Riachuelo, the quirky barrio of La Boca is a great place to spend an hour or two, wandering its colourful streets and soaking up its idiosyncratic atmosphere.
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