The well-heeled barrio of Recoleta is, for most Porteños, intrinsically tied to the magnificent La Recoleta Cemetery at its heart. In around 1720, drawn to the area’s tranquillity, which was deemed perfect for meditation or “recollection” (hence the name), Franciscan monks set up a monastery here. It wasn’t until the cholera and yellow fever epidemics of 1867 and 1871 that the city’s wealthy moved to Recoleta, from hitherto fashionable San Telmo. Although many of its residents have left for the northern suburbs in recent years, a Recoleta address still has cachet. Avenida Alvear is Buenos Aires’ swankiest street: along it you’ll find stately palaces, plus designer boutiques, swish art galleries and one of the city’s most prestigious hotels. Scattered throughout the barrio are a host of restaurants and bars, ranging from some of the city’s most traditional to trendy joints that come and go.
Recoleta’s other notable attractions include one of the capital’s few remaining colonial buildings, the gleaming white Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar; the Centro Cultural de Recoleta; and the country’s biggest and richest collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.