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Recoleta neighborhood | its history

» The district owes its name to the Convet of the Recoletos Descalzos --"barefoot" missionaries-- (founded on 1716), community of the Recoletos Friars. These monks constructed their monastery on an already existing small farm, which name had been given after the abundance of a particular kind of tree in that zone: "the Ombúes" (This small farm was located within the land map distributed by Don Juan de Garay in 1583).Despite the fact that, nowadays, the Baroque Church located here owns the name "of the Recoletos", the church was actually consecrated to the Virgin of Pilar. It was an Aragonese salesman --also kind of a smuggler-- with the name of Narbona who, after being interested in the project of the Recoletos Priests, joined in the efforts and proposed the construction of the Church. The church was finished in October the 12th, year 1732, and not only the ecclesiastics authorities, but civilian and military as well, showed up there to celebrate the opening. At that period of time, of course there were no other buildings which could cast a shadow over that new temple in the hill, and it was unthinkable that, over the years, the place would become on of the best city places of Buenos Aires city, showing some of the best bars, restaurants, and hotels for the tourism --or locals-- to enjoy.

The Church displays a number of beautiful sacred images --like the one of San Pedro de Arcántara (Alonso Can), the crucifixion of Christ, and an antique silver frontal of colonial manufacture. In their vaults rest the remains of numerous personalities, deceased before the later existence of a law against burring people inside temples. The Recoleta Cemetery was born along with the Temple as a holy ground. During the governing time of Rivadavia, the cemetery was expropriated and transformed into the Cemetery of the North, already being recognized with the name of "Recoleta". Many great personalities of our country are buried there (less Rivadavia, who give it birth, and the Zavaleta Dean who consecrated it). Due to the appearance of a salting tub and a lamb slaughter house, the land, early known for its country houses, changed to an area of ranches, which took place all along the river. It is said that with the swellings came camalotes --an american aquatic plant-- hiding yaguaretes --a kind of crocodile. Towards 1770, the planning of the rural properties at the north of the present San Martín park was regularized. It was designed in a 45' angle respect to the original plan laid by Juan de Garay in the South District. It was then an area of small farms united by an irregular road called Long Street (presently Quintana Avenue). The river reached the edge of the ravine, covering the lands where nowadays stands the National Museum of Bellas Artes. On the 30th March of 1830 was created the Parish under the invocation of their Patroness Saint. The annexed convent had many different uses despite the original: jail of political detainees, quarter, asylum and hospital; its last destiny was --and is-- that one of a shelter for the elder. The area of Recoleta was populated as a result of the epidemics in 1871 (of rage and yellow fever) that affected the richest families, forcing them to retire from their residences in the south towards the northern sectors. The definitive consolidation has its fact in the work of the intendant Torcuato de Alvear, who constructed the Alvear Avenue, quickly filled with sumptuous palaces. Using the ground of the excavations of Puerto Madero they were able to fill up the lowlands, building parks and greens and transforming the swamps in the most elegant zone of the city.

Tourism in the Recoleta District

At the back of the Recoleta church, towards Pueyrredón Avenue, took place the corrals, slaughter houses and the cart roads off north; this caused a population of river-side men, laborers and thugs which lodged in the "pulperías" (cantinas). In this atmosphere it is where its said that the tango was born, in the middle of tenancies and bars, danced in the Armenonville of Libertador and Tagle street in 1888; later, also, in the Palais de Glace. Nowadays, the district of the Recoleta is considered not only a site of deep historical interest but also the most glamorous neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Within the distance of a few blocks exists several Cultural Museums and Centers, parks, fairs, museums, bars and restaurants of excellency (enter the site for specific information). The Recoleta, mainly well-known by the Cemetery, pantheon of the country (part of our history is buried along its 6400 vaults), also offers the visitor a long list of touristic places. In the intersection of Libertador Avenue and Alvear stands the Palais de Glace (Posadas street), early an ice skating track (that's where its name cames from, "ice palace"). Nowadays it has become an art gallery. The Palais de Glace faces the Brigadier Carlos Maria de Alvear monument, a military man and politician of our country. The piece was crafted by Antoine Bourdelle, and is one of his more important art works. It is great monument which pedestal holds 4 allegorical figures that lean in each one of their 4 corners and that symbolize the force, the freedom, the eloquence and the victory. At the other side of the Figueroa Alcorta Avenue stands the Municipal Pavilion of Exhibitions, and at its right side, there is the Carlos Thays park. On Libertador Avenue and towards Palermo district is Francia Park and the France monument, a gift from the country of France in occasion of the celebration of the Revolution of May (1910). Very near, on the same avenue, stands the building of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. From there, crossing Figueroa Alcorta avenue, stands the Faculty of Right, which has an entrance of great dimensions; there is a walking bridge that crosses the avenue, made from a reinforced concrete lamina of exquisite simplicity and beauty. Walking by the Museum park, with beautiful woods and child games, many sculptures please the view and offer different attractions. Crossing Libertador Avenue is the Mitre Park, that offers beautiful ravines and leafy trees, and unfolds to show the Monument of Bartolomé Mitre. Passing by the monument, in a continuity of beautiful trees and hills, is the British Embassy, and the bust of General Gelly and Obes, outstanding figure in the War of Paraguay; surrounded by modern buildings of very exclusive departments, this monument is the starting point of many different streets and avenues. To the left; the perrons towards Pueyrredón Ave., known for its beautiful balustrades and sculptures. At the right side, the building of the National Library

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