Sprawling across almost 8-sq-km, Flores is one of the largest barrios of Buenos Aires and sits in the centre of the Buenos Aires city area. Classed as part of Buenos Aires Province until 1888, Flores claim to fame is that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in 2013, was born and raised in the barrio.
An introduction to Flores
Flores – Flowers in English – is a middle class barrio of Buenos Aires. It is bordered by Caballito to the east, Nueva Pompeya and Villa Soldati to the south, Floresta and Parque Avellaneda to the west and Villa General Mitre and Villa Sana Rita to the north.
In its beginnings Flores was a town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires known as San Jose de Flores, a name derived from San Jose, the patron chosen to keep vigil at the area’s first chapel, and Juan Diego Flores, owner of the majority of land in the area. This land was inherited by Ramon Francisco Flores and along with his friend Antonio Milan he paved the way for the then town’s development.
In 1806, the major landowners donated a block for the commission of a church and set aside plots for a main square and public entities. The remaining land was then divided into blocks of sixteen plots and auctioned at the beginning of 1808. Plots were purchased by affluent families from the City of Buenos Aires and Flores became recognized for its lavish mansions and country houses. Today, traces of this wealth are visible in the remains of houses owned by Juan Manuel de Rosas, 19th century governor of Buenos Aires Province, and the Marco del Pont Family, offspring of a Spanish governor of Chile.
Flores continued as a town in its own right up until 1887, after which it was incorporated into the city limits of Buenos Aires along with Belgrano. From this date forward the town became a key barrio of the city providing an extensive commercial and social center for the city’s western side.
Things to see, do or both
If you have a keen interest in churches then a wander around the streets of Flores will bring you face to face with an eclectic collection. The most prominent of all is the Basilica de San Jose de Flores situated behind Plaza Flores. Built in romanticism style and dating to 1831, it was here that Juan Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, discovered his religious vocation. Whilst on the subject of the Pope, pass by 531 Membrillar street to see the house where he grew up and nearby Plazoleta Herminia Brumana where he is said to have played football as a child.
A great aspect of Flores is its multicultural population, which is visible at the churches dedicated to various religious faiths. At Avenida Lafuente 445 is the Iglesia Evangelista Japonesa, the Asociacion Iglesia Evangelica Armenia is situated on Avenida Carabobo 743 and a little south from here on Thorne street is the Iglesia Catolica Santos Martires Coreano.
For a glimpse into the wealthy history of Flores, head to Centro Cultural Marco del Pont on Artigas 206, one block north of Plaza Flores. A 19th century home of the Marco del Pont family, the house’s rooms and garden are utilized for music and dance performances, art exhibitions and tango shows.
Something else you might be interested in whilst hanging out in Flores is its commercial activity taking place along Avenida Avellaneda. Stretching for 12-13 blocks between Avenida Nazca and Segurola are a plethora of independent shops, cheap and knock off clothing stores and wholesalers of a similar ilk to those found around Plaza Miserere in Once – a good spot to pick up some bargain necessities.
Nightlife and restaurants
It might be a good 10km from Centro, Palermo and San Telmo but if you make the effort to get here then you’ll find some interesting nightlife in Flores.
Tucked away in the quiet southeastern corner of Bajo Flores is Koreatown, aka Barrio Coreano or Baek-ku. Certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing area but amidst the streets leading off Avenida Carabobo between Avenida Eva Peron and Castañares is selection of restaurants, with Han Huk Guan (Saraza 2135) and Una Cancion Coreana (Carabobo 1549) both worth checking out. After eating, head to the Chess Club at Carabobo 1548 and rent your own private karaoke room for the evening. The area can be a little sketchy late on so be sure to taxi in and out.
El Teatro Flores (Rivadavia 7806). Should heavy, death and thrash metal be to your liking then drop by El Teatro for performances by local acts and international bands like Anthrax and Lamb of God. If the genre isn’t to your taste, keep an eye out anyway as the odd reggae and ska concert creeps onto the agenda. The venue itself is impressive, offering a main floor with plenty of moshing space and an encompassing balcony for slightly more relaxed viewing.
La Farmacia (Directorio 2398). The first bar notable to be recognized in Flores, La Farmacia, as its name suggests, was once a neighborhood pharmacy providing ailments and medicine to the barrios residents. Today, the wooden countertops and cabinets look as though they have been frozen in time; however, rather than offer medicinal recipes, the bar uses ingredients to knock up delicacies such as cheese fondue, waffles, hot gourmet sandwiches and impressive picadas.
For late night action and to mix with the partygoers from Buenos Aires Province, make a move for the intersection of Avenida Nazca and Rivadavia. Ivanoff (Rivadavia 7518) and Tabasco Disco (Jose Marti 17) are two popular spots where you can put your best cumbia and reggaeton dance moves to the test – just don’t come expecting a fancy Palermo Soho longue-club.
Why it’s hot / Why it’s not
As it started life as a town in its own right, Flores, with its residential areas, commercial shopping district, nightlife and football club, has just about everything you can ask for and you’ll probably be able to find far cheaper rents than in the barrios further north. The A line of the Subte also stops in the barrio and provides fast access direct to Plaza de Mayo.
Nevertheless, Bajo Flores, the southeastern part close to Koreatown, backs onto a large slum known as Villa 1-11-14 which at all costs should be given an extremely wide birth.
Although originating from Boedo, Club Atletico de San Lorenzo play their home games on the outskirts of Flores at Nuevo Gasometro stadium. Pope Francis is an avid fan of San Lorenzo, as is television mogul Marcelo Tinelli but, unless you are into reality shows-cum-soap operas, the less said about the latter the better.