North of Palermo, linked to central Buenos Aires by Subte, bus, and train, Belgrano remains a barrio apart. In fact, it was once a separate city and then, briefly in the 1880s, the country’s capital; both the executive and legislative branches met at what is now the Museo Histórico Sarmiento (Cuba 2079, tel. 011/4781-2989, www.museosarmiento.gov.ar, 1–5:30 p.m. Sun.–Fri.), honoring President Domingo F. Sarmiento.
Sarmiento never lived here, but the exhibits contain many personal possessions and a model of his provincial San Juan birthplace; it also chronicles the near–civil war of the 1880s that resulted in Buenos Aires’s federalization. Admission costs US$0.60, but is free Thursdays. Guided tours take place Sunday at 4 p.m.
Immediately west, Plaza General Manuel Belgrano hosts a fine crafts market open on weekends and holidays; nearby, the landmark Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción (1865), colloquially known as La Redonda for its circular floor plan, figures prominently in Ernesto Sábato’s psychological novel On Heroes and Tombs.
North of the plaza, set among impressive Andalusian gardens, the Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta (Juramento 2291, tel. 011/4783-2640, www.museolarreta.buenosaires.gov.ar, 2–8 p.m. weekdays, 2–10 p.m. weekends, US$0.30, free Thurs.) reflects the Hispanophile novelist who built it. Like many other museums, it closes in January.
A few blocks northwest, the Museo Casa de Yrurtia (O’Higgins 2390, tel. 011/4781-0385, www.casadeyrurtia.gov.ar, US$0.30) was the residence of sculptor Rogelio Yrurtia (1879–1950), creator of San Telmo’s Canto al Trabajo and other works that challenged the traditional pomposity of Argentine public art. Hours are 3–7 p.m. Tuesday–Friday and Sunday. Guided tours, at no additional expense, take place Tuesday–Friday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.
The famous landscape architect Charles Thays turned Barrancas de Belgrano, three blocks east of Plaza Belgrano, into a shady public park. Just across from the park, the Museo Libero Badii (11 de Septiembre 1990, tel. 011/4783-3819, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays, closed in Jan., free) exhibits the work of one of the country’s most innovative sculptors (ring the bell for entry). Across the tracks from the Barrancas, along Arribeños north of Juramento, Belgrano’s Barrio Chino (Chinatown) has grown rapidly since the 1990s, with an impressive new gate donated by the Chinese embassy. Belgrano residents who need feng shui consultants can find them here.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition