Covering just over two square kilometers, Colegiales is one of Buenos Aires’ smaller barrios and a largely residential one at that. Known for its green spaces, Colegiales is squeezed between Belgrano, Chacarita and Palermo. Although not famed for tourism there are some interesting snippets of local history to discover.
An introduction to Colegiales
The history of Colegiales is paired with that of Chacarita – the barrio lying immediately south – and the two were originally known as Chacarita de los Colegiales. In its beginnings, Chacarita de los Colegiales was made up of small Jesuit-owned estates that were utilized as student retreats.
This was the situation up until 1767 when the Jesuits were expelled and the Spanish took control of the land. After the turn of the century and the commencement of Bernandino Rivadavia’s government in 1826, large numbers of European immigrant workers settled in the area and forced it to be divided into the two separate barrios of Chacarita and Colegiales.
Today, Colegiales maintains a strong residential feel that is characterized by its sleepy cobblestoned avenues lined with overhanging trees. That said, due to its close proximity to Palermo, the neighborhood is witnessing a rise in bars and restaurants.
Things to see, do or both
The outstanding tourist attraction of Colegiales is the Mercado de Pulgas. Founded in 1988 and situated at the intersection of Avenida Dorrego and Alvarez Thomas, this flea market presents an eclectic collection of furniture, art work, antiques and other curiosities. If you are planning to stay long term in Buenos Aires you might just find a bargain for your new apartment here.
When in Colegiales you can retrace the footsteps of some of Argentina’s most famous sons. The comic strip Mafalda – written by humorist Quino (Joaquin Salvador Lavado) – was based on the barrio and Plaza Mafalda is dedicated to the creator and his creation. Other famous names of the barrio include journalist Ulises Petit de Murat and inventor Ladislao Jose Biro. The latter invented the ballpoint pen and Fundacion Biro (Cramer 450) is dedicated to helping and promoting young Argentine inventors.
If you do find yourself spending some time in Colegiales you will be treated to a barrio of endless green spaces. On a sunny day, take time to relax in one of the many plazas or take a stroll along Pasaje General Paz, a pedestrianized Andalusian-influenced alleyway, and Avenida Elcano, a wide leafy boulevard that connects the barrio with Belgrano and Chacarita. Situated on the latter you’ll also find Elcano Grill, a classic neighborhood parrilla, and The Oldest, a pleasant British-styled pub.
Nightlife and restaurants
When venturing deep into the back streets of Colegiales you will be treated to a wonderful mix of classic porteño cafés, closed-door restaurants and live music venues.
Pipi Cucu (Ciudad de la Paz 557). Come and mix with a stylish hipster crowd at this quirky French bistro-restaurant. Mismatched plates, glasses and cutlery add to the aloof charm of the place whilst the bartenders are known for mixing delights such as red fruit martinis.
Treintasillas. By reservation only, Treintasillas is another of Buenos Aires’ growing collection of closed-door restaurants. Offering a four course fixed-price menu that changes on a weekly basis according to the chef’s desires, Treintasillas is popular with tourists looking for something in the city besides steak, pizza and milanesa.
Buena Birra Social Club Beer lovers unite at this closed-door brewery cum bar-restaurant. Following a decade of fine tuning his brewing skills, Ariel ‘Toti’ Golia turned his residential home into a secret club for those wanting to taste alternative homebrew beers and enjoy something other than a Quilmes Cristal. Call (1564283457) to reserve a spot and be given the address, then turn up to sample stouts, golden ales and Indian pale ales.
Club Cultural Matienzo (Matienzo 2424). On the border of Colegiales and Belgrano, Club Cultural Matienzo is a lively cultural center offering an agenda jam packed with events. On any given night of the week you can expect to enjoy theatre productions, concerts from home and abroad, cinema nights and literature events. Many of the events are free of charge with others rarely asking more than AR$25.
Loreto Garden Bar (Virrey Loreto 2912). When the sun is shining and you fancy sitting outside and feasting on hearty burgers, head to the heart of Colegiales residential area to discover Loreto Garden Bar. If you arrive hungry during peak hours expect to wait; however, it is worth it to get your hands on burgers coated with brie, bacon and caramelized onion, and grilled chicken sandwiches topped with a honey mustard glaze.
Why it’s hot / Why it’s not
Colegiales offers a laidback alternative to its noisier neighbors Palermo and Belgrano. If you want to live more anonymously then this barrio offers the ideal chance to do so whilst at the same time presenting plenty of opportunities to discover some true gems of Buenos Aires.
As property prices increase, it is barrios like Colegiales that offer new business opportunities. As we have already seen happen in Villa Crespo, it might not be long before the entrepreneurs try to make their mark on Colegiales.