Stepping through the entrance of the quiet arcade-style Pasaje La Defensa is like stepping a hundred years back into history. Once a grand bi-level estate of the influential Ezeiza family, the mansion is now a crumbling, though still stately, grid work of rooms, passageways, staircases, and courtyards, housing a gallery of antiques and curiosity shops.
Wandering through the winding layout of the building, which dates from 1880 and still retains its original black-and-white checkered tile floors, is almost as interesting as poking around through the curiosities found in the shops, where you can find anything from antique Argentine furniture, huge framed mirrors, and vintage pin-ups, to traditional woven tapestries, ponchos, and luggage from the north of Argentina.
Especially spectacular on sunny days when the vendors spill out into the Roman-style courtyards, the Pasaje la Defensa has antique gems packed into its small rooms from floor to ceiling. Especially of note is the selection of linens, as well as the handmade lace, accenting everything from delicate women’s evening gloves to full-sized tablecloths, aprons, bed skirts, and draperies.
The shop housing a selection of rescued items from degenerating buildings also shouldn’t be missed – the sheer number of ceramic tiles, brass door knockers, and wrought iron gates that once decorated the grand mansions of San Telmo is impressive enough, not to mention the beautiful artistry and lasting quality that went into making the pieces.
Pasaje la Defensa is located in San Telmo, the most historic neighborhood and the proclaimed antiques district of Buenos Aires. The best day to visit the neighborhood, if visiting for just one day is the only option, is Sunday during the wonderful San Telmo flea market. Pasaje la Defensa is located just a few steps from the famed Plaza Dorrego, the heart of the market. For a tasty lunch or a cool glass of white wine, snatch an outdoor table at La Divina Comedia, located at Defensa 683, where the market-going people-watching is the best.
The shops of the Pasaje la Defensa are open from Tuesday through Sunday from 10a-8p.
Name: Pasaje la Defensa
Address: Defensa 1179, Buenos Aires