Argentine Weekend Escapes: San Antonio de Areco

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Buenos Aires. The birthplace of tango. Home to 48 districts; the city that never sleeps. From newly built skyscrapers and brightly coloured street art to historically significant architecture, from romanticised restaurants to bustling nightlife, this Latin American metropolis continues to impress each and every one of it’s visitors.

There is so much to do, to see, to experience. So many people to meet, streets to discover and foods to taste. With this liveliness however, the capital requires a very dynamic lifestyle which can sometimes prove to be over-demanding. At times, you can feel it’s time to escape from the hustle and bustle.

Approximately 115km north of Buenos Aires (2 hours by bus), the picturesque colonial streets, welcoming residents and peaceful campos of the pueblito San Antonio de Areco attracts visitors all year round, and it’s not difficult to see why. The small town’s history dates back to the 18th century where it’s culture and traditions of gauchos and criollos are still present today. An urban area overflowing with local artisans creating masterpieces including silverware, iron, rugs and clothing, meeting a new craftsmen down every street comes as no surprise.

Despite it’s population of only 23,000, San Antonio offers a wide range of local museums, centres, historical sites and ranches to spend the ideal weekend escape from the daily commotion down in the capital. The quiet and safe cobbled streets lead to the centre’s Plaza Ruiz de Arellano; the hub of coffee shops and restaurants as well as point’s of interest such as the Municipalidad de San Antonio de Areco and the parroquia (parish church).

Further north of the plaza is the town’s famous Río de Areco whose most scenic spot is the old pink bridge (el Puente Viejo). A warm summer’s day is the perfect excuse to wander along the riverside with an ice-cream from the local heladería whilst soaking up the flora and fauna which cannot be missed. A note to keep in mind however, similar to the rest of the country, this town keeps it’s customs by closing down for the afternoon siesta.

San Antonio de Areco has two important dates on it’s calendar. The first being the 23rd October (the town’s birthday) and the other el Día de la Tradición which takes place on  the 12th and 13th of November. On this day, you can hear the clitter clatter of the perfectly groomed horses strutting through the side streets as they are handled by the gauchos from the Argentinian pampas.

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Must-See

  • Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes

The museum was created in order to honor Ricardo Güiraldes’ world famous novel Don Segundo Sombra, published in 1926. The building itself is located within the green countryside neighboured by open ranches; home to authentic criollo horses. These are said to be descendants of the original horses which were brought over by the Spanish and have never been cross bred. Consisting of a combination of ancient artefacts, silverware and traditional materials, this museum is the perfect place to enjoy a spot of nature whilst learning about the ancient and modern gaucho culture.

  • Centro Cultural y Museo Usina Vieja

14875178_10209293518228401_1413056704_nWith a very simple entrance, it is very likely to mistake the Centre of Culture and Old Usina museum for any other building. Tucked away between the side streets of Alsina and Belgrano, this centre invites the public to discover the town’s past. Offering a free guided tour, the amicable staff lead the way through the journey of the pueblito providing all sorts of relevant information; including it’s geography, social history, politics, culture, sports, indigenous people, economics and much more. In 1871 the town did not have night lighting. Frustrated by the public service, a group of residents formed a partnership in order to generate electricity and so in 1901 the building itself was installed with steam engines to generate current. Hidden in the corner of the building are steep steps leading underground to the tanks which were filled with coal and crude oil. Finally, the visit ends with a small yet interesting temporary art exhibition and artesanal gift shop.

Life of the artisans:

The entirety of the this small village is a hub for artisans selling unique items from antiques to jewellery. The antique store  located on Calle Matheus is a garage filled with original antique pieces, hanging from the ceilings or placed on the floor. It’s a haven for junk-lovers and antique collectors alike.

Along each and every street there are small stores selling local and hand made products such as mate mugs, traditional clothing and silverware. The villagers truly work hard and cherish the value of creativity to the best of their abilities. Whatever the taste, be sure to know that no visitor will be living the pueblo empty handed.

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