photo source – http://misfotosdebuenosaires.blogspot.com.ar/
Directly west of Buenos Aires Centro and on the border of La Provincia is the barrio of Villa Devoto. A quiet residential barrio, it is locally known as ‘El Jardin de la Ciudad’ (The Garden of Buenos Aires) due to its collection of tree-lined streets. In fact, Villa Devoto famously possesses more trees than any other barrio of Buenos Aires.
An introduction to Villa Devoto
Villa Devoto takes its name from Count Antonio Devoto, a member of the Buenos Aires elite society from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Devoto, an Italian immigrant and philanthropist, owned the majority of the land that today makes up the barrio, which he acquired in 1888 when sections of the town of San Martin were incorporated into Buenos Aires Capital Federal.
In 1910, Devoto commissioned the building of Palacio Devoto, one of biggest mansions in Buenos Aires spread over +10,000-sq-mt. An icon of the barrio, the palace was designed by Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo and adorned with Florentine mosaics and gold, silver and bronze trimmings. Curiously, Devoto passed in 1916 before Buschiazzo had finished his work.
Today, Villa Devoto is famed for being the home of members of Diego Maradona’s family and the childhood neighborhood of tennis star Gabriela Sabatini. It is also the home of the infamously overcrowded Devoto Prison, the only working prison within the boundaries of Buenos Aires City and in 1978 the scene of the worst prison riot in Argentine history.
Things to see, do or both
At the geographical center of Villa Devoto is Plaza Arenales, a large public square occupying the equivalent of four blocks. Home to pine, walnut, eucalyptus and magnolia trees, history states that at the turn of the 20th century the plaza was a popular meeting place of the Italian mafia. The plaza is named after General Juan Antonio Alvarez de Arenales, to whom a commemorative monument was built in 1958. There is also a statue of Antonio Devoto. Today, the plaza is a favorite evening and weekend hang out spot of Villa Devoto locals. Walking one block north along Nueva York street from Plaza Arenales you will arrive at the imposing Palacio Devoto.
If you are in the mood to shop then head to the south of the barrio and take a walk around Devoto Shopping. Inside you’ll find a host of high street brands, some independent stores and a cinema. Adjacent to the mall is Plaza Pablo Ricchieri, another of Villa Devoto’s tree-lined public squares where you can enjoy a picnic or afternoon nap on a sunny day.
Residents of Villa Devoto are known to be proud of their barrio and, although a far cry from the boisterous stadiums of River Plate and Boca Juniors, the neighborhood passion can be felt at local football team Club Atletico General Lamadrid. Plying their trade in the Argentina B Metropolitana division, the club made worldwide fame in 2009 when all 11 players were sent off after a fight broke out between the opposition supporters and Lamadrid’s substitutes and coaching staff.
Nightlife and restaurants
Café de Garcia (Sanabria 3302). Setting foot in this café-bar opened in 1900 is like travelling back in time as little seems changed since its century-old beginning. With walls adorned with football and tango memorabilia, it is as porteño as a café can get. To tempt you taste buds, order the ‘Picada Especial’ which comes with other 30 ingredients. There are also a couple of billiards tables.
Danton Cuisine (Pareja and Bahia Blanca). On a corner of Plaza Arenales, Danton Cuisine is a charming home converted into a closed-door restaurant. The whitewashed walls, wooden floors and dim chandeliers are the perfect accompaniment to the exquisite Mediterranean flavors of the menu. Open Thursday thru Saturday only.
Café da la Plaza (Lincoln and Nueva York). Ignore the bright lights and VISA, WiFi and Facebook stickers on the windows because inside you’ll find a superb bistro-styled menu mixing Argentine, Armenian and European ingredients. Just off Plaza Arenales, it has become a Devoto institution since opening in 1988.
Why it’s hot / Why it’s not
If you want to stay in a barrio with proud inhabitants and a classic Buenos Aires lifestyle then Villa Devoto is a fine option. Moreover, connected by both the FC Urquiza and FC San Martin train lines, there is easy and frequent access to the center.
However, when looking for accommodation, make sure to study the area well; chances are that you won’t want to be within spitting distance of the local prison.